Expanding Inclusive Opportunities is a federally funded initiative designed to build on existing state efforts to improve inclusive opportunities for young children with disabilities and their families. The Expanding Inclusive Opportunities initiative is an interagency collaboration among the Office of Head Start, Child Care Bureau, and Administration on Developmental Disabilities in the Department of Health and Human Services; and the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in the Department of Education. Interagency technical assistance to support this initiative will be provided by the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (NECTAC), The National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center (NCCIC), the Head Start Quality Initiative TA and the Northeast Regional Resource Center (NERRC). The focus of this work is state team/systems level collaborative planning to support current and future efforts to expand inclusion for young children in the state. Involvement with the Expanding Inclusive Opportunities initiative provides states with support from the federal agency technical assistance consultants for one year through both on-site and distance technology consultation, meeting facilitation and resource sharing.
Maine was nominated as one of the three states to participate in the Fourth Annual Expanding Inclusive Opportunities Pre-Institute State Planning Days held in Chapel Hill North Carolina on July 21 & 22, 2008. The states selected were asked to identify cross-agency teams to participate in the institute and continue to work with the team and on selected priorities in this area. Maine’s Expanding Inclusive Opportunities Early Childhood Inclusion Team consisted of Debra Hannigan, Maine Department of Education Child Development Services Director; Carolyn Drugge, Maine Department of Health & Human Services Child Care Administrator and State Head Start Collaboration Director; Angela Faherty, Maine Department of Education Associate Commissioner; Cindy Brown, Child Development Regional Site Director; and Linda Labas, Early Childhood Coordinator at the University of Maine Center for Community Inclusion & Disability Studies, Maine’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD).
During the Pre-Institute, Maine’s Expanding Inclusive Opportunities Early Childhood Inclusion Team met to begin a strategic planning process including a review of their efforts in this area. The team worked with the federal agency technical assistance consultants to create a vision statement as well as to review current initiatives, identify strengths and continued challenges, identify other stakeholders and partners and determine next steps for proceeding as an interagency group to support inclusive services.
For more information about Expanding Inclusive Opportunities visit http://www.nectac.org/expopps/default.asp
A resource of the University of Maine Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies.