Education program for preschoolers with disabilities extended

Funding for a program in Lafayette Parish that helps preschoolers with disabilities has been extended through September.

The Lafayette Parish School System had received a two-year grant from the Louisiana Department of Education for the program, called Preschool Inclusion Project, which seeks to place students with special needs in classrooms with students who do not have special needs.

The grant program was set to end last year.

The success of the program led to the funding extension, said Christine Duay, the school system’s director of early childhood education.

“The Preschool Inclusion Project has helped to foster an environment in which all children are supported and provided with positive opportunities for learning,” Duay said.

The number of preschoolers with disabilities in the program grew from 52 to 119 within the two-year grant program.

As part of the program, the school system increased the number classes with an equal number of special needs and other students who are taught a general education curriculum.

The school system also provided intervention services, such as speech therapy to preschool-aged children ages 3 and older at child care centers.

In addition, the grant paid for consultation services and professional development from SpecialQuest Group, which specializes in early childhood inclusion training.