June 27, 2017  

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USM Institute for Disability Studies Awarded Early Childhood Inclusion Contract by the Mississippi Department of Human Services

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Early childhood inclusion ensures young children with disabilities have access to the learning environment, participation in all learning activities, and appropriate support for children, teachers, and families.

The Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) has contracted with The University of Southern Mississippi Institute for Disability Studies (IDS) for the Mississippi Early Childhood Inclusion Center (MECIC). The MECIC is a statewide program that will provide quality training and technical assistance to early childhood educators who teach infant, toddler, and preschoolers and serve young children with disabilities in their childcare centers and preschool programs. IDS has worked with MDHS to provide training and technical assistance to early childhood educators and families of children with special needs for more than 13 years.

“The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U. S. Department of Education’s joint policy statement on early childhood inclusion lays the foundation for high quality inclusion while highlighting the need for comprehensive services for families and quality training and technical assistance for early childhood educators,” said Dr. Alicia Westbrook, MECIC director. “MDHS, through the Mississippi Early Childhood Inclusion Center, is eager to meet the needs of our families and educators throughout Mississippi.”

The MECIC will conduct two special needs credentials throughout the year. The credential is a 40-hour certificate program designated for preschool teachers and an additional credential designed specifically for infant and toddler teachers. Further, MECIC will provide a program exclusively for early childhood directors that will teach directors how to establish an on-going monitoring and developmental screening program in the early childhood environment.

MECIC will serve parents and children by conducting developmental and Autism-specific screenings and providing on-going support to families through family navigation. Family navigation supports families who have developmental concerns for their child and are seeking support.

“Community Inclusion for everyone is a cornerstone of all the work that we do here at IDS, as well as at all of the University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs) across the United States and its territories,” said Dr. Beth Bryant, IDS executive director. “Increasing quality inclusive learning environments for very young children with disabilities and support for their families has long been, and remains an area of core emphasis for IDS. We are so pleased to have this opportunity to partner with MDHS to continue and extend our work in this area.”  

To learn more about MECIC and to request services, call: 1-888-671-0051.