Building Equitable Supports for Childen with Disabilities

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Building Equitable Supports for Childen with Disabilities

Meaningful inclusion can support children with disabilities in reaching their full potential resulting in broad societal benefits, including higher productivity in adulthood and fewer resources spent on interventions and public assistance later in life.1

Children with disabilities and their families face significant barriers to accessing equitable and inclusive high-quality early childhood programs. Too many preschool-aged children with disabilities are only offered the option of receiving special education services in settings separate from their peers without disabilities.2 This lag in inclusive opportunities is troubling for many reasons. 

  • First, equal opportunity is one of America’s most cherished ideals. Being meaningfully included as a member of society is the first step to equal opportunity and is every person’s right – a right supported by our laws. 
  • Second, research indicates that early childhood inclusion is beneficial to children with and without disabilities.3
  • Third, preliminary research shows that operating inclusive early childhood programs is not necessarily more expensive than operating separate early childhood programs for children with disabilities.4

The Building Equitable Supports for Children with Disabilities (BESCD) initiative recognizes the inequities that often exist in special education programs and is designed to support school districts in addressing these inequities. BESCD provides 30 participating school district teams with:

  • Individual coaching
  • Regional team coaching 
  • A series of six monthly Professional Learning Community (PLC) webinars
  1. Implicit bias and understanding race, racism, and equity in special education.
  2. Using data collection to inform practices
  3. Inclusion supports for children in public pre-k and community programs
  4. Engaging and working with families.
  5. Trauma informed practices and the effects on learning for children with disabilities
  6. Wellness practices for early childhood educators and administrators

BESCD nurtures a professional community that centers equitable supports as key for successful inclusion of children with disabilities. Individual and regional school district teams have the opportunity to improve and enrich their inclusive early childhood programming. 

The 30 BESCD school district teams of 3 to 5 members include Special Education Directors, Early Childhood Coordinators, Teachers, Early Care and Education Directors, Head Start Disabilities/Education Coordinators, Family Services Coordinators, CPPI Coordinators, Early Intervention Directors and Community Partners. 

With support from their individual coach, each team is developing an Action Plan to address equitable supports to improve their inclusive practices of children with disabilities that is informed by reflection on their early childhood program, the PLC topics and their coaching experiences.

Implementation strategies for applying the concepts, resources and best practices shared in monthly PLC style webinars, as well as problem solving around unique school district needs are addressed in both the individual and regional school district team coaching experiences. These BESCD experiences are used to guide and inform individual school district action plan development for improving equitable supports to promote the inclusion of children with disabilities.  

The relationships, knowledge and skills participating professionals and teams experience through this initiative position these BESCD school district teams to meet the following intended outcomes:

  1. Learn and implement practices to address disproportionality and implicit bias.
  2. Build relationships with families to engage them in decisions around inclusion.
  3. Develop techniques to sustain inclusion practices to build strong community connections for children with and without disabilities.
  4. Receive tools for building wellness practices.
  5. Recognize trauma and the effects on early childhood brain development for children with disabilities.
  6. Identify how to interpret behaviors in children with disabilities through the lens of trauma.
  7. Practice self-care/self-reflection techniques when working with children with disabilities impacted by trauma and their families to avoid secondary trauma and burn-out.  
  8. Develop an action plan that describes how you or your team will implement practices learned to sustain positive outcomes for children with disabilities.

If you are interested in learning more about BESCD, please contact Emily Koester, BESCD Project Coordinator, at


This FREE initiative is funded by the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), and is administered by the Collaborative for Educational Services (CES).

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1 SRI International (1993). The national longitudinal transition study: A summary of findings. Menlo Park, CA: Author.

22013 Part B Child Count and Educational Environments Data File. Accessed on 4/17/15 at:  

3Odom, S. L., et al. (2004). Preschool inclusion in the United States: A review of research from an ecological systems perspective. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 4(1), 17–49.

4Odom, S. L., Hanson, M. J., Lieber, J., Marquart, J., Sandall, S., Wolery, R., Horn, E., Schwartz, I., Beckman, P., Hikido, C., & Chambers, J. (2001). The costs of preschool inclusion. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 21, 46–55. 

For more information, contact: 
Administrative Assistant
413.586.4900 x5568