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April 17, 2014
Recommended Practices

Recommended Practices is a DEC initiative that bridges the gap between research and practice, offering much-needed guidance to parents and professionals who work with young children with disabilities.  Shop the DEC Recommended Practices Collection>>.

DEC’s primary goal is to identify practices that result in better outcomes for young children with disabilities, their families, and the personnel who serve them. The practices are derived from two key sources. One source is the scientific literature on effective practices for young children with disabilities, their families, and the personnel who work with them. The other source is the knowledge and experience of those who work with young children and their families.

DEC Recommended Practices WorkbookRecommended Practices includes 240 practices which are divided into seven strands.  The first five cover direct services for children and families:

  1. Assessment 
  2. Child-Focused Interventions
  3. Family-Based Practices
  4. Interdisciplinary Models 
  5. Technology Applications

The last two strands focus on the indirect supports which provide a foundation for direct services:

  1. Personnel Preparation
  2. Policies, Procedures, and Systems Change

The practices are to be used by individuals working in a variety of early childhood settings that provide services to young children with disabilities and other special needs from infancy through age five. These settings include early intervention programs (home and center based), preschool and preschool special education programs, child care programs, Head Start, public schools, hospital based programs, and other programs in which young children receive developmental, educational and related services.

DEC Recommended Practices do not include specific practices related to setting up developmentally appropriate classrooms and curricula nor do they include suggestions for high quality care and education. Instead, Recommended Practices identifies the specialized supports and teaching strategies that are required in order to meet the needs of children with extraordinary needs—those for whom teachers, families, caregivers, and other professionals need to design an individualized learning environment.

Ultimately the goal of the DEC Recommended Practices is to improve outcomes for young children with disabilities and their families by improving the quality of their services. It is our aim that teachers, therapists, early intervention specialists, family members, administrators, researchers, and those in personnel preparation will take these practices, learn about them, and put them into practice.

The DEC Recommended Practices are currently being updated.

Click here to read more about the ongoing work related to the Recommended Practices.



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