Maine’s Expanding Inclusive Opportunities (MEIO) Early Childhood Settings Inclusion Toolkit

Early childhood Inclusion Toolkit

Inclusion Toolkit Reflection Worksheet (PDF form)


This Early Childhood Settings Inclusion Toolkit was developed by the Maine’s Expanding Inclusive Opportunities (MEIO) Initiative. It represents a collaborative commitment by the MEIO cross-agency state leadership team; the Maine Department of Education – Child Development Services, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Child Care and Head Start and the Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies, to support early childhood programs in providing high quality inclusive settings for young children and their families.

These resources are useful for individuals thinking about starting a program as well as for staff currently working in early childhood settings. This toolkit is designed to help fuel your curiosity about every child and setting that can support all children, including any child with a special need. You can look at your program through the eyes of each child and decide if there are any changes you might want to consider. Toolkit topics include the following:

More and more young children are participating in early childhood settings in their communities. A setting can be a family child care home, child care center, private or public preschool, Head Start or other type of care outside of the home, as well as care provided by other family members or neighbors.

We use the word inclusive to describe a setting in which any child can positively and fully participate, including children with special needs and disabilities. View the video, “Inclusion is Belonging,” created by Kids Included Together (KIT).

When we welcome young children with disabilities into a program we may question how to better understand each child’s unique style, needs and perspective. We might ask ourselves:

  • What are this child’s, strengths, interests and capabilities? How do we find this out?
  • How can I support each child’s meaningful participation, physically, developmentally and emotionally?
  • How can settings be designed to support all children and the varied ways they learn right from the start?
  • What can we do to plan the space, schedule and routine so that each child can fully participate in all play and learning activities?

Some of the Toolkit resources require a PDF reader. Download Adobe Reader here.