Preschool Development Grant: Inclusion
& Universal Design Project

This special project was developed to support and train child care providers to meet the needs of children with delays and disabilities in an inclusive child care setting. We are excited to bring the Inclusion & Universal Design Project to child care providers throughout Colorado. 

The fall of 2020 brought the first 25 participating child care providers together for a combination of small group learning, one on one coaching sessions, and an Introduction to Universal Design webinar. To support and implement their learning, each program received a kit of adapted materials. These kits featured a wide variety of simple, low cost items for adapting toys, books, and learning environments to support all children, including those with delays and disabilities.

The three-year project is supported by the Colorado Department of Human Services – Office of Early Childhood and funded through the state’s Preschool Development Grant. Over those three years, the project will equip over 100 licensed child care providers, homes and centers, to create classrooms that meet the needs of all children. Through the implementation of inclusion and universal design principles, these providers will expand inclusive, supportive child care options for children and their families. 

Through this 3-year project, from 2020-2022, a model for the application of assistive technology (AT) and inclusive learning and design is being offered and refined to promote effective early learning environments for children with delays and disabilities.

The model, funded by the Preschool Development Grant (PDG), a federal grant awarded to Colorado, is being offered to a select number of licensed child care providers. The PDG: Inclusion & Universal Design Project was developed to train and prepare child care providers to support and meet the needs of children with delays and disabilities in an inclusive child care setting.

Initially, I was not sure this project was for me because I did not have any children with severe needs; however, I was so wrong. The changes I made to my home have been beneficial for ALL children, and will make me proactive instead of reactive when it comes to caring for the needs of ALL children. The changes did not require extensive time, classwork, skill, or money. They just required me to think in a different way about being inclusive of all children. I will be forever thankful I was included in the project. – Gloria Bornhoft Bergner, Gloria's Country Child Care Home

The goal of the project, being implemented by the Center for Inclusive Design and Engineering through the University of Colorado Denver, is to expand Colorado’s child care provider capacity and ensure children with a wide variety of delays and disabilities can fully access and participate in their early learning environment.

  1. Increase educational, caregiver and related service staff knowledge in the implementation of inclusive design and delivery of low-tech AT services, and;
  2. Create positive outcomes that demonstrate the efficacy of low-tech AT services and inclusive design principles when implemented within a child care center or home child care setting.

Including underserved and vulnerable populations will be an important part of the project’s goals.

Each year of the project will focus on determining the needs of the child care providers in the cohort and developing effective methods to support their work. Each cohort will consist of licensed child care providers who are committed to advancing inclusion and universal design in their programs. Participants will receive training opportunities, coaching, and professional development on the appropriate use of adapted materials and low-tech Assistive Technologies in their programs to create a learning environment that is more accessible to all children.

Licensed child care centers and family child care homes selected for participation will receive the following:

  • Up to 8 hours of free training for staff (live webinars and online trainings), including topics such as inclusion, universal design, making adaptations and modifications for a variety of delays and disabilities, and assistive technology;
  • Customized coaching from CU Denver faculty to meet the unique needs of children, staff, and the child care program;
  • An “Inclusive Classroom Supports kit” containing numerous low-cost, low-tech adapted materials, assistive technologies, and resources to support the development of inclusive learning environments;
  • Access to a loan library of low-tech and adapted tools and equipment to borrow for trial in the child care to determine its value and applicability to their setting before deciding to purchase.
This experience has taught me to see that we can do so much more for children than I thought. Materials that we have on hand can be adapted for a simple fix that can make such a difference. The access to the lending library and all of the resources we received have been amazing. The team has been supportive and professional. I have enjoyed this entire process. – Cindy Davis, Pikes Peak Community College Child Development Center at Centennial Campus
Maureen Melonisheadshotmealison

Maureen Melonis, MNS, CCC-SLP/L

Christina Perkins, MA, CCC-SLP/L

Paige Garman, BAAlison Griffin-Hunter, BA

Associate Director
Research Senior Instructor
Speech-Language Pathologist

Senior Research Instructor CDE SWAAAC Coordinator    Speech-Language Pathologist

Administrative Assistant IIIAdministrative Assistant III

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Participant Quote:

“It was exciting learning among my peers and colleagues. Among our group there was so much knowledge and ideas shared. I looked forward to checking in with them. It was a pleasure being part of the inclusion grant.” – Heidi Mather, Heidi’s Childcare Center

Preschool children eating at a table
baby girl using a switch toy to control a switch adapted chihuahua toy
little boy playing with a truck adapted with a shower ring
Little girl with down syndrome holding a pencil
Preschool development grant birth through five