This is a message from the California Department of Education (CDE), Early Learning and Care Division (ELCD).

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Date: March 19, 2019

Subject: Official Message from the State Director of Special Education

Developing inclusive early learning and care programs for students with disabilities is a priority for the state of California. Section 8492 (a) of the Education Code states:

Early childhood inclusion embodies the values, policies, and practices that support the right of every infant and young child and his or her family, regardless of ability, to participate in a broad range of activities and contexts as full members of families, communities, and society.

Assembly Bill (AB) 1808 (Chapter 32, Statutes of 2018) allocated significant funding to increase inclusive opportunities for students with disabilities to participate in infant, toddler, and preschool programs with their same aged peers.

First, AB 1808 established the Inclusive Early Learning and Care Coordination Program (IELCCP) as a grant program for county offices of education. The goal of this grant is to increase access for young children birth to five years old to inclusive early learning and care programs. The request for applications (RFA) due date for this grant has passed. However, for reference or more information, you may visit the IELCCP RFA web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/fg/fo/r2/ielccp1819rfa.asp.

In addition, AB 1808 included $167,242,000 for the Inclusive Early Education Expansion Program (IEEEP). The goal of the IEEEP is to assist local educational agencies (LEA) to improve access to inclusive environments. Funds may be used for adaptive and universal design facility renovations, adaptive equipment, and professional development. Funding will be awarded through a competitive grant process and the California Department of Education (CDE) will keep LEAs apprised of the opportunity to apply.

These newly established statewide grant programs create an opportunity to renew our commitment to inclusive practices in early learning and care settings. This letter reaffirms expectations for access to inclusive early learning and care programs for students with disabilities in California by highlighting two important documents issued by U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the past few years. An electronic version of this letter is available on the CDE Special Education Director’s Official Letters web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se/lr/om031819.asp.

The CDE looks forward to working with LEAs to expand inclusive, high-quality early learning and care settings across the state. We see this early intervention as a valuable opportunity to see young children and students thrive by providing a superior foundation for their endeavors in both school and in life.

For questions regarding this subject, please contact Sheila Self, Education Programs Consultant, Special Education Division, by phone at 916-327-3538 or by email at SSelf.

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