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The Scope of Early Childhood Education (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Child-Care Programs

Child-care programs are designed to provide children with quality care and education for full days. With more parents working full-time, the need for child-care options for young children continues to grow. Typically, child-care programs provide care for children from the beginning to the end of the parents’ workday. It is not uncommon for some children to be in a child-care setting from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. As indicated earlier, other children may attend part-days for a preschool experience.

A variety of child-care options are available. The most common type is called the family home child care. These programs operate out of the caretaker’s home and enroll only a small number of children. Child-care centers are programs located in buildings either designed for, or remodeled to be used with, young children. More children are typically enrolled in these programs, with several teachers hired to work with different groups of children. School-based child care is becoming a more popular option in many locations. Public and private schools are setting aside space in their elementary school buildings for child-care programs under their direction. Corporate child care is also growing in popularity. An increasing number of businesses are offering on-site child care as a convenience and service to their employees. Before- and after-school care is a final option available in many settings. These programs may be provided at the elementary school, or children may travel to other sites to receive this care.

Programs for Children with Special Needs

Early childhood programs designed for children with special needs are also available in most communities. Federal legislation over the past two decades has mandated these important options. Public Law (PL) 94–142, enacted in the mid-1970s, requires that all children with special needs beginning at age 3 be provided a free and appropriate public education. Later revisions of this act extended the availability of these programs downward to include birth to age 3. In 1990, after several more revisions, the act was renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. It was last amended in 2004. This law is intended to educate children with special needs in classrooms with their normally developing peers. This integration effort has led to early childhood special education programs that are blended with other options for young children.

While many educational efforts for children with special needs are integrated with other early childhood programs, early intervention programs for children with special needs are also available (U.S. Department of Education, 2005). These programs are designed to help identify children’s disabilities and assist them in growth and development. Options for infants and toddlers are most common and often combine limited small-group experiences with home visits where the parent and home visitor work together to support the young child’s development.

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