Early Steps of SWFL

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The Southwest Florida Early Steps program serves infants and toddlers in Collier, Glades, Hendry, and Lee Counties and is part of the Florida Early Intervention Program. Florida's Early Intervention Program is improving its service delivery system to better support infants and toddlers and their families - in places where they live, learn and play. An enhanced family-focused early intervention system called Early Steps has replaced the former Infants & Toddlers Early Intervention Program with a new Mission, Vision and Values.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Resources for Early Childhood Inclusion is now available on line

July 18, 2011

Dear Early Learning Partner:

We are excited to announce that Count Me In: Resources for Early Childhood Inclusion is now available on line at:

The purpose of this compilation is to answer questions and provide general information to families and early learning providers on how to successfully include young children with disabilities in early childhood programs.   Content areas include:

·         A Definition of Early Childhood Inclusion

·         Florida Resources to Support Inclusive Environments

·         Information Specifically for Families

·         Training Materials and Resources

·         Contact Information for Who Can Provide Support

·         Details on State and Federal Legislation on Inclusion

You may recall our recent announcement of the “Expanding Opportunities for Children Birth to Five” awareness flyer on the benefits of inclusion to children, families, professionals, and communities (available in English, Spanish and Creole). This is now one of the many materials available on Count Me In for family members and early learning providers to access and share. 

Please take a few minutes to browse this virtual resource.  Be thinking about how you can use it.  Maybe you have a professional development activity or event coming up and you need some helpful material.  Or maybe you’re planning course content as you prepare to teach a class on early childhood inclusion.  This would be a great place to search for video clips or short training modules on how to implement inclusive practices. 

Or maybe you’re a district or community provider who is looking for tools on how to collaborate with other early learning partners to increase inclusive placement options for young children.  See what states such as California, Delaware, Maine and Virginia have to offer in terms of community planning guides and assessments (and while you’re at it, be sure to check out a nationally recognized resource that was developed by our own folks here in Florida! http://www.fldoe.org/ese/pdf/PreK-disabALL.pdf).

Our goal is for Count Me In to be your ‘go to’ place for information on early childhood inclusion.  We commit to be current and will continually add promising information and resources as they become available.  Please help us in this quest by sharing materials you love and think we should add by sending them to the Florida Central Directory: lalong@centraldirectory.org

We also value your input and are invested in doing what we can to support early childhood inclusion in Florida.  Please share your ideas with us!


Members of the Florida Expanding Opportunities for Early Childhood Inclusion

Professional Development Workgroup

Thursday, August 11, 2011

KID QUEST is here to help children learn more about disabilities

 Hi! My name is "Kid Quest" or you can call me "KQ" for short. I am here to help you learn more about disabilities and health.

Do you know, or are you, a kid who
  • has difficulty moving around?
  • has difficulty seeing?
  • has difficulty speaking or getting people to understand what you need?
  • finds it hard to keep up in school or do homework?
  • has a medical condition like Down Syndrome or spina bifida?
Kid QuestIf you know a kid who has these difficulties or if you have them yourself, then you may know or be a kid with a disability. Kids who have disabilities may not have the same opportunities as other kids. They may feel lonely or different and may not have a lot of fun. Sometimes, because kids look or act differently, we avoid them or don’t include them in the same activities we do. Can these kids play sports or participate in the same activities as other kids? Do they need special equipment to play?

Do they need to go to special schools or ride special buses? Will these kids grow up to be newspaper reporters, doctors, lawyers, athletes, or actors? If you don’t have a disability now, can you become disabled? How does it feel to be disabled? The answers to these questions will be our Quest.

Through our Web Quest we will become "virtual investigators." We will search for information by exploring not only the Internet but also our own school and neighborhood. Quests are a lot of fun, so let's get started.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Fore more information please visit: http://www.floridacareinc.org/

Funding Opportunities for People with Disabilities and Families
People with developmental disabilities and their families are offered the opportunity to apply for financial assistance to attend conferences, workshops and other learning opportunities through a grant awarded to The Florida Center for Advocacy, Research and Education (Florida CARE) through the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, Inc.

This project will enable individuals with developmental disabilities and their families to become better self-advocates and enhance their quality of life through improved knowledge of many aspects of the disability system. In addition, this knowledge will facilitate their inclusion and participation in numerous planning and decision-making committees, forum and allow them to assume leadership positions in community organizations.

More than 35 people with disabilities and their families will enjoy this opportunity. These individuals will come from different demographic and targeted groups around Florida and will be selected through an application process. Interested families should click on the links below to complete an application for consideration. There is also a calendar listing upcoming opportunities.

Florida CARE passionately advocates for people with disabilities by providing corporations, school districts, groups and families with employment coaching, transitional skills, ADA compliance tips, diversity planning and outreach, disability awareness and hiring techniques.

Florida Care received grant funding from the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council to provide funding to individuals with developmental disabilities for the purpose of creating stronger self-advocates and leaders. We are currently in Year 3 of the funding and nearly 70 people have been awarded grant funding through this project. Several grantees have since taken on leadership roles that may not have occurred without the opportunity to attend local, state, and national workshops and conferences.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Call for Family Advocates to Share their Journey

The Genetic Alliance, in partnership with Family Voices and The Arc, launched an online questionnaire that allows experienced family advocates to share their advocacy journey, including how they developed certain skills and created the opportunities to influence systems. These experiences will be turned into stories that will inspire and encourage others to take action to improve lives and enrich communities. By collecting these stories into a publication and identifying the common themes, readers, who will be family members or individuals recently diagnosed with a genetic condition, chronic disease, disability and/or special health need, will begin to understand how to influence their own path in advocacy.

The online questionnaire will close on Friday, August 19. Parents (biological, adoptive, or foster), siblings, grandparents, other relatives, caregivers, and those with a health condition or disability are all welcome to participate. More details about the questionnaire can be found on the survey landing page: http://bit.ly/qii6iK.

Please also send this survey to other chapters in your network and any families you feel would have a valuable story or experience to share. If you have any questions in follow up to this email, please don't hesitate to send them to Alyson Krokosky at akrokosky@geneticalliance.org.

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