Models of Inclusion in Early Childhood

Least Restrictive to Most Restrictive Settings
The least restrictive setting is the Public School Program, Head Start, or Community-Based Program with Natural Proportions of students with IEPs. Next is the Public School Program, Head Start, or Community–Based Program with more than natural proportions of students with IEPs, followed by the Reverse Inclusion model. Finally, the Early Childhood Special Education Classroom is the most restrictive.
Virginia Guidelines for Early Childhood Inclusion (p. 18)
As described in the Virginia Guidelines for Early Childhood Inclusion starting on page 16, special education and related services can be implemented in a variety of settings where preschoolers with disabilities are included with preschoolers without disabilities. Considerations for staffing, classroom configurations, and service delivery include the following:
  • guidelines for class size and staffing standards in the early childhood program (Preschool Class Size Guidance Document);
  • regulations for the caseload for the ECSE teacher and paraprofessional;
  • requirements for teacher licensure in each program;
  • physical space in the classroom;
  • students' ages;
  • other factors impacting teaching and learning such as children experiencing homelessness or those learning both English and their home language; and
  • the needs of the children, individually and as a group. The class composition must ensure that all children's needs are met and that a high-quality program can be provided. All decisions should be based on the individual classroom and the needs of all children including the unique needs of children with disabilities.
There are a number of classroom configurations and considerations for providing special education and related services in inclusive settings. Below is a list of common models. Click on the model type to view related resources.
  • Individual Teacher Model: In this program model, one teacher has a classroom of children both with and without IEPs. The teacher is licensed and dually endorsed in ECSE and either early childhood for three- and four-year-olds (add-on endorsement), early/primary education PreK-3, or elementary education PreK-6 (all three endorsements collectively are referred to as PreK endorsed in this document).
  • Reverse Inclusion: In an ECSE classroom operated by school division special education personnel, typically-developing children are recruited to attend the preschool program so that children can learn together in an inclusive environment. To qualify as a regular early childhood classroom, at least 50% of the children are to be typically developing.
  • Co-Teaching Model of Collaboration: In this model, a PreK teacher and an ECSE teacher share responsibility and combine their expertise to meet the need of all children in the classroom. The ECSE teacher may be in the classroom for all or some of the school day. The goal is for both teachers to share equally in the implementation of the educational program, including implementation of children’s IEPs, thus co-teaching approaches are utilized.
  • Itinerant Model of Collaboration: In an itinerant model, an ECSE endorsed teacher travels between classrooms or programs to consult with and coach PreK endorsed teachers and provide direct services to individual children as needed.
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Showing Results 1 - 14 of 14
Description: Does your school division offer Itinerant Early Childhood Special Education (IECSE) services or is your division exploring the IECSE service delivery model? This one-hour webinar is designed for administrators to provide a brief overview of the model and its three service delivery components (direct instruction, consultation and collaboration, and professional development). A deeper focus will be placed on best practice for implementation, including how to document services in the IEP,...
Date(s): 9/24/2024 3:00 PM ET - 10/30/2024 4:30 PM ET
Description: The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is offering the Itinerant Early Childhood Special Education Service Delivery Model Community of Learning beginning September 2024. The purpose of the Community of Learning (CoL) is to deliver targeted technical assistance and professional development to teachers endorsed in early childhood special education (ECSE) who provide special education services using the itinerant model. In an itinerant model, an ECSE-endorsed teacher travels between classrooms...
Description: The Itinerant Early Childhood Special Education Caseload Management Form is a helpful tool intended for professionals to track the caseload of itinerant teachers, including frequency of direct instruction, frequency of collaborative meetings, and professional development provided.
Description: This Embedded Instruction Matrix Form is meant for itinerant teachers to complete for students on his/her caseload. The Itinerant teacher lists the daily schedule and imbeds the targeted skills of that particular student into the schedule to ensure the learning is naturally embedded throughout corresponding parts of the day.
Description: The "Itinerant Early Childhood Special Education Administrator Start-Up Steps for the New School Year" is a checklist for administrators to prepare for the itinernant model. The checklist includes sections for: Logisitcs Direct Instruction (DI), Collaborative Meetings (CM), and Professional Development (PD) IEP and Other Special Education Meetings  
Description: The Itinerant Early Childhood Special Education Planning and Documentation Form encourages itinerant teachers to document his/her visits and services provided. Itinerant teachers can document the summary of service delivery visit including the consultation/collaboration and direct instruction activities implemented, as well as notes on what worked well and what did not. Additionally, teachers can document follow-up tasks needed to complete and the plan for the next visit.
Description: This customizable lesson plan template contains fields that can be used to intentionally plan for co-teaching arrangements and differentiation in a preschool classroom. Sections can be easily modified to fit your daily schedule. Other considerations related to total participation techniques, evidence-based practices, and positive behavior supports are also included within the template. Supplemental materials consist of a completed sample lesson plan and corresponding activity video....
Description: Local school divisions provide special education services for young children, ages two to five, who have developmental delays or disabilities. Depending on the learning needs of the child, these services may be provided in early childhood care and education (ECCE) settings such as Virginia Preschool Initiative, Head Start, Mixed Delivery, child care, and community-based preschool programs. When special education services are provided in ECCE settings, Itinerant Early Childhood Special Education...
Description: Local school divisions provide special education services for young children, ages two to five, who have developmental delays or disabilities. Depending on the learning needs of the child, these services may be provided in high-quality early childhood care and education (ECCE) settings such as Virginia Preschool Initiative, Head Start, Mixed Delivery, child care, and community-based preschool programs. When special education services are provided in ECCE settings, Itinerant Early Childhood...
Description: The “Itinerant Early Childhood Special Education (IECSE) Service Delivery Model for Administrators” is a three-part video series intended for administrators who want to learn more about the Itinerant Model for children with Individualized Education Programs (IEP). The Itinerant model is a service delivery model that supports the inclusion of young children with disabilities by delivering IEP services in a variety of preschool settings such as a private preschool, child care center,...
Description: While the IDEA regulations are the same for early childhood special education as they are for K-12 students, service delivery in early childhood special education is unique. This webinar provides an introductory overview of early childhood education programs, including ECSE, for special education directors and administrators who wish to learn more about early childhood and models for service delivery.
Description: Co-teaching team, Shannon Mackey (Special Education Teacher) and Danielle Sentz (General Education Teacher) present a webinar on the basics of co-teaching in an inclusive Pre-K setting. As the first Pre-K team to join VDOE’s Excellence in Co-Teaching Initiative, they provide insight on how to incorporate Dr. Marilyn Friend’s co-teaching models in a setting with young children both with and without disabilities.
Description: Preschool refers to the time before a child is old enough to go to kindergarten or elementary school.  In Virginia, preschoolers who are eligible for special education and related services are entitled to placement in the LRE alongside their peers without disabilities with supplementary aids and services.  Inclusion in early childhood programs is supported through years of research and reinforced by a strong legal foundation and can set a trajectory for inclusion across the life...
Description: This series of webshops showcases the products created by real co-teachers of Virginia, select teams of middle and high school co-teachers participating in the Virginia Department of Education’s Excellence in Co-Teaching Initiative. These co-teachers established demonstration sites and opened their doors to visitors wishing to observe quality co-teaching; they also developed co-taught lesson plans and videos to share through these webshops. In their videos, teachers model not only...