Mission: Infant Toddler Connection of Augusta and Highland (ITCAH) provide high quality early childhood experiences for all children and families
Community Need: ITCAH and Augusta County Public Schools (ACPS) is addressing a gap in access to quality, early childhood education for two year old children that had been unattainable due to the disability of the child, and lack of financial resources. Consistent barriers have been identified in prohibiting access to preschool opportunity with same aged peers; these children may remain on the waitlist for Early Head Start, are unable to afford private/community preschool, or do not meet community preschools’ current developmental criteria for enrollment. Community preschools do not typically have the training and resources available to them to meet the unique needs for a child with a developmental delay. The average cost of attending two half days per week community preschool program is $160/month which is not manageable for a family living at the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Research on inclusion (supporting students with disabilities in the same learning environments as their typically developing peers) has shown benefits of increased skill acquisition and generalization, friendships, higher expectations, increased parent participation, and families are more integrated into the community.
Primary Activities: ITCAH works to support community partners with on-site visits, materials, and professional development opportunities so that all children have access to high quality preschool experiences. Early Childhood Special Education services can occur in the family’s home, community based learning programs, or in a school based learning setting. All guidelines emphasize family involvement, child preparation for new environments, information exchange between service providers, continuity between settings, and compliance with federal, state, and other legal mandates.
Constituents Served: ITCAH serves children in Augusta County ages birth to five, who meet one or more of the following criteria: demonstrates a 25% delay in one or more developmental areas; has a diagnosed disabling condition; shows atypical development; and has a variety of risk factors for school success. Children served in 2017 included: 0-12 months (55); 13-24 months (59); 25-36 months (38); 3 years (32); and 4 years (213). Community Preschool Scholarships will be awarded to children who: have an identified developmental delay or disability; and are 200% FPL. ITC of Augusta and Highland served 38 children during the 2017-18 that met the age, financial, and risk factor criteria.
Program Details: Roundtable discussions in 2016 between ITCAH, ACPS, and community preschool partners identified the following challenges in enrolling students with disabilities: facilitating the initial visit to a preschool and assisting with registration paperwork; providing the community preschool with instructional support and developmental resources to meet the specific needs of individual children; and financial resources. While ACPS and ITCAH continue to collaborate in providing supports in relation to enrolling a two year old with a disability, they do not have the capacity to provide tuition assistance. ITCAH wants to provide scholarships to families based on their FPL. By removing this barrier, family and child can participate in community preschool programs.
Amount Requested: $9,450
Operating Budget: $103,634,345