An Inclusive Approach to Early Education
The Cost Issue
The cost of providing inclusive early education services is of concern to parents, program providers, administrators, and other program consumers.
For some school administrators, providing inclusive services for young chil- dren with disabilities through the school district is complicated because pre- school programs for 3- to 5-year old children who are typically developing
may not be offered in public schools. In those cases, administrators and program developers have had to search for early childhood programs in the community into which children with disabilities might be included. … Administrators often do not know if inclusion is more costly than the current form of service. (Odom & Parrish, in press p. 2).
Although the economic aspect of early childhood special education pro- grams is important, “it is not the only, or even preeminent perspective that one might wish to use” (Barnett & Escobar, 2000, p. 560).
The existing data on the cost of inclusive education programs suggest that these programs can be an economical alternative because they take advantage of existing program structures rather than creating parallel and often duplicate structures (Odom & Parrish (in press),Salisbury & Chambers, 1994). The cost of providing appropriate educational services for young children with special needs can be reduced by capitalizing on existing programs in the community. This saving is a related benet of inclusion but should not be the primary factor driving the agenda of inclusive education in a school district.
Another aspect of the cost issue is the large number of typically developing children, as well as young children with developmental disabilities, who con- tinue to go unserved. Simply put, there are not enough quality early childhood
1 If children with develop- mental issues are to learn to play appropriately, they must have children to play with and imitate.
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