What Is Inclusion?

Our Inclusion department supports any child who needs additional support to learn, and works to provide them the necessary accommodations to meaningfully participate in their program at the child care facility. This support is provided by specially trained personnel called Inclusion Specialists.

They aid and consult parents with children with disabilities or special health care needs. In addition, they also support teachers and child care centers who request information relating to similar care of the children they serve.


Is your child's development on track?

Wondering about your child’s development is natural.

Have you asked yourself:

  • Is my child behind?
  • What skills should my child have?
  • My child isn’t talking yet or can’t say “th” sounds well, is that okay?

Also, don’t forget to check our News and Resources blog for more resources for families! 


Are you experiencing challenging behaviors in your classroom?

If you have ever cared for a child who exhibits challenging behaviors such as hitting, biting or defiance, you know it can be stressful. Let us help you meet the needs of diverse learners of all types and ages.


Also, don’t forget to check our News and Resources blog for more resources for providers! 

Call our Warm Line!

The Warm Line is a great resource for support, information, and referrals regarding the inclusion of children with special needs and disabilities. Child care center staff, providers, and families can request information relating to the special needs of their children. Our Inclusion Specialists help with:

  • Curriculum
  • Child Development Concerns
  • Strategies for Managing Behavior
  • Referral Process for Additional Assistance

Call our Warm Line (386-323-2400 ext. 8804) and an Inclusion Specialist will speak with you about your concerns and determine what the next steps should be. You can also call the State of Florida Warm Line (toll-free): 866-357-3239

Special Needs Rate

Providers who are supporting a child with specials needs in an inclusive setting are eligible to receive the special needs rate.  A provider is eligible to request a special needs rate for a child with School Readiness funding under the following conditions:

  • Proof of the child’s disability validated by a licensed health, mental health, education, or social service professional other than the child’s parent or person employed by the childcare provider
    • Examples of diagnoses that may qualify for a special needs rate include but are not limited to Autism Spectrum Disorder, Deaf or Hard of Hearing, Developmental Delay, Dual Sensory Impairment, Emotional or Behavioral Disability, Intellectual Disability, Language Impairment, Orthopedic Impairment, Specific Learning Disability, Speech Impairment, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Visual Impairment.
  • The provider answers yes to question 10 in contract (Is your program equipped to care for children with special needs?)
  • Provider has a special needs rate in their contract.

The process to apply for the special needs rate for a child is:

  1. Assure all contractual items listed above are completed.
  2. Procure document from parent that is proof of the child’s disability i.e., IEP, IFSP, therapy or behavioral plan of care.
  3. Complete the BPIECE assessment for both the teacher/classroom and director/center:
    Quality Performance System (floridaearlylearning.com)
  4. Complete the special needs rate interest form and upload child’s therapy plan of care (IEP or IFSP)
  5. Once the interest form is reviewed, ELC will email provider a Special Needs Rate application.
  • Once the application and all contractual requirements are received, an Inclusion Specialist will schedule an in-person observation to verify that you are providing the extra supports and accommodations to address the child’s goals. This will also include a conversation with the teacher. Please make sure your teacher(s) have reviewed the child’s IEP, IFSP or therapy plan and know the child’s goals. 
  • Once that observation is complete, a rate will be determined for the child.  Each child on the special needs rate may have a different rate based on their needs. You will get notice of the approval and new rate. 
  • When the provider receives the email, they validate that the rate is correct on their reimbursement report.
  • The rate will be reviewed each year based on the expiration date of the verification documentation.

Note: the Special Needs Rate is applicable for those services beyond those required by the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability at schools that receive federal funding. This includes children with learning disabilities who do not need special education or individualized instruction but may still need supports and services at school.

This law provides access to the same education as their peers by removing barriers. This may look like wider spaces between learning centers to make room for a walker or wheelchair, auditory devices, or playdough around paint brushes to make them easier to grasp.

The Special Needs Rate is intended to support services provided above and beyond those required by ADA. Funds are to supplement, not supplant, funding provided through IDEA, Parts C (ages birth – three) and B (ages 3 – 21).  Refer to Best Practices in Inclusive Early Childhood Education (BPIECE) for an assessment tool.