The County Office of Education is in its final year of implementing a $5 million Inclusive Early Education Expansion Program (IEEEP) grant to expand access to inclusive early learning and care programs for children with disabilities.

In inclusive early learning settings, children with and without special needs learn and play together, build relationships and friendships, and develop a sense of belonging and membership, resulting in improved outcomes for all students. Thus, one of the primary goals of the IEEEP grant is to increase the number of preschool children with individual education plans (IEPs) who are enrolled in state preschool programs and receive the majority of their special education services in that setting.

The schools supported through the grant are in neighborhoods with some of the greatest needs and lowest incomes in the county. Initially, the IEEEP program included preschools operated by four school districts (Jefferson Elementary, San Mateo-Foster City, San Bruno Park, and Cabrillo Unified) and programs operated at the County Office of Education's Anne Campbell Center for Children and Families. This year, preschools in the Redwood City School District also joined the IEEEP grant.

As part of the program, leadership teams self-assess their inclusive practices each year utilizing an Inclusion Matrix developed by the County Office of Education and establish long- and short-term goals for developing high-quality, inclusive early learning programs. Each site received support for facility renovations, professional development and coaching, and purchasing adaptive equipment and materials.

As a result, 22 classrooms across 14 early learning sites are now providing an inclusive model of service delivery. To date, more than 451 early learning teachers from 71 sites across San Mateo County have participated in IEEEP-funded professional development and/or coaching in Universal Design for Learning, positive behavior interventions and supports, and other areas that support a high-quality, inclusive early learning program.

All pilot sites have purchased adaptive equipment to increase access and engagement, and four sites have built or renovated their outdoor play areas to increase accessibility. The IEEEP initiative has resulted in increased collaboration between staff from state preschools and special education programs to accomplish the goal of increasing the number of young children with IEPs accessing and engaging in high-quality, inclusive early learning programs.