Inclusion Spotlight
December, 2022
Celebrating 2022
Early CHOICES cannot move inclusion forward without the collaboration and commitment from you in the field. We would like to close the year with gratitude for all of the work we have all done together to improve inclusive opportunities for children with disabilities and their families.

Some highlights:

  1. Three communities in Illinois, Collinsville, Mannheim and Springfield, dedicated significant time and energy to building partnerships, collecting data and participating in state and national efforts to examine community inclusion.
  2. Within those communities, teachers and instructional coaches committed their time to undergo training, participate in a community of practice and engage in practice based coaching with colleagues related to inclusive practices.
  3. Districts from across the state committed to an intensive technical assistance collaborative agreement with Early CHOICES to improve inclusion within their community.
  4. Hundreds of practitioners participated in professional learning opportunities related to systems work, inclusive practices and collaboration.
  5. And most importantly, every day, there are many practitioners in Illinois choosing to be inclusive, promoting membership and belonging and partnering with families whose children have disabilities.

We are looking forward to continuing the good work with you in 2023!

Changing Our Mindsets & Practices: New Research and Perspectives on Ableism
We know that inclusion is a journey that requires self-reflection and on-going learning for all of us who support children, families and schools. The move away from the medical model, in which practitioners try to "fix" developmental delays has been underway since the disability movement started (for a primer, watch "Isn't it a Pity," a TEDx talk by Torrie Dunlap).

Fortunately, to keep us moving forward, we have on-going research, providers who are reflecting on shifting their practices and self-advocates who can lead us by their shared experiences and expertise.

Please explore these new pieces, share with colleagues, and consider new ways of thinking.

From the American Speech-Language-Hearing Associations's ASHA Wire:


Inclusive Education Series for Families
Are you looking for ways to engage and support families? Why not invite families to attend the Inclusive Education Series for Families together? It can be a great way to build relationships, and provide a shared understanding of inclusion. It is one of our favorite series, and it still has four dates available for families to gather and share resources regarding inclusion.

Upcoming sessions will discuss the Least Restrictive Environment, the benefits of inclusion, goals setting and implementing inclusion. Each session features a special guest. We have family members, self advocates and practitioners who share their experience with inclusion and their perspective. The series will highlight content from the Understanding Inclusion modules Early CHOICES and EITP have created with families for families.

Gateways, PEL and EI credit are available.

Please remember to register for each date in this series:

January 19, 2023Inclusive Education Family Series: LRE & Inclusive Practices
February 16, 2023Inclusive Education Family Series: Benefits of Inclusion
March 16, 2023Inclusive Education Family Series: Inclusive Settings and Goal Writing
April 20, 2023Inclusive Education Family Series: Implementing Inclusion and Next Steps
Let's Kick off 2023 with Inclusive Schooling:
Circles from the Start

STAR NET and Early CHOICES have collaborated to bring to Illinois an exceptional professional learning opportunity for early childhood educators and administrators.

Our facilitators are Dr. Julie Causton and Dr. Kristie Pretti-Frontczak of Inclusive Schooling so we know we will learn use-today strategies while having fun. We will deep dive into play, setting up daily activities, assessment and designing instruction in inclusive classrooms.

All who attend will receive access to archived recordings of each session, and unlimited and lifetime access to a custom dashboard with resources.

You do not want to miss this series!

Four sessions in winter 2023:
January 9, January 23, February 6 & February 13

Sharing a Vision 2023 Request for Proposals is now Open!
Our favorite biennial conference is back in person October 4-6 2023, in Peoria! This year's theme is: “Sharing A Vision: Connecting, Including, Inspiring”

The Sharing A Vision Conference Committee invites workshop presentation and innovative practices poster session proposals for the 2023 Biennial Conference. Information regarding the request for proposals is available.

Each proposal is required to acknowledge the conference theme and align with the principles in the NAEYC’s Advancing Equity in Early Childhood Education statement.

For information, visit the Sharing a Vision Website.

Upcoming Professional Learning Opportunities

Developmentally Appropriate Practices: Maximizing Equitable High Quality Early Childhood Education and Care (webinar series):

JAN 24, 2023
Creating a caring, equitable community of learners and engaging in reciprocal partnerships with families

MAR 14, 2023
Observing, Documenting, and Assessing Children's Development and Learning

Here, There, Everywhere: Embedding Goals in Classroom Routines and Activities:

January 30, 2023 (webinar)
Join us as we harness the power of routine-based learning to optimize our classrooms. We will hear from a related service provider who will share tips, tricks and real-life examples of making goals come to life in the preschool classroom. Participants will have opportunities to apply new information, action plan and explore new resources. This is a collaboration between Early CHOICES and STAR NET Region IV.

Presenter(s): Emily Ropars, Early CHOICES & Jackie Marino, SLP Mannheim 83

Looking for more Professional Development?

The Illinois State Board of Education hosts a Professional Development Calendar

Early CHOICES, Illinois STAR NET and Early Childhood Professional Learning all post their events on this calendar. The calendar allows users to sort by topic. Just chose Early Childhood to see all the wonderful opportunities for professional learning for early childhood professionals in Illinois.

Not finding what you are looking for?
Check out these sites for on demand learning opportunities
STAR NET (look for On Demand list upper right hand corner)
Early CHOICES (look for Early Childhood Outcomes, Educational Environments, Inclusion Policy Modules and Understanding Inclusion)
Contact us with questions or inquiries into targeted technical assistance for your early care and education program at