Policy Issues in Nevada Education
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It has become common for young children to be enrolled in some form early care or education programs before entering kindergarten (Whitebrook, McLean, & Austin, 2016). These experiences can encompass a range of programs and many families use multiple programs to meet their needs (U.S. Census Bureau, 2013). According to the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education (DHHS/DOE; 2014) early care and education includes programs that: provide early care and education to children birth through age five, where the majority of children in the program are typically developing. These include, but are not limited to, private or publicly funded center or family-based child care, home visiting, Early Head Start, Head Start, private preschool, and public school and community-based pre-kindergarten programs, including those in charter schools. (p.1) Quality early childhood programs help to promote children’s learning and development across all domains of development and prepare them for kindergarten. For children with disabilities, being meaningfully included in early care and education programs can support positive gains in development and learning. Furthermore, these early childhood programs have become vital for parents of young children to seek out employment, further education, and respite from the demands of parenting (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000). However, families of young children with and without disabilities continue to struggle with access to affordable programs that meet the complex needs of families and support high quality and evidence-based early childhood education. As with the rest of the country, Nevada has been working to further the quantity and quality of early care and education experiences for its youngest residents and their families. However, as early childhood programs cross multiple sectors, departments, funding streams, and state and federal policies as well as challenges to serving children in urban, rural, and tribal areas of the state, moving ideas into action has been difficult.
Supporting High Quality Early Childhood Experiences for Children with and Without Disabilities and Their Families in Nevada.
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