Children with Disabilities and Individual Needs

What is an Inclusive Child Care Program? What are a program’s legal responsibilities?

Inclusion embodies the values, policies, and practices that support the right of every child and his or her family, regardless of ability, to participate in a broad range of activities and contexts as full members of families, communities, and society. The desired results of inclusive experiences for children, with and without disabilities, and their families include a sense of belonging and membership, positive social relationships and friendships, and development and learning to reach their full potential. The defining features of inclusion that can be used to identify high-quality child care and education programs are access, participation, and supports. (Adapted from: DEC/NAEYC. (2009). Early childhood inclusion: A joint position statement of the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina, FPG Child Development Institute.)

In an inclusive program, children with and without disabilities have access to the same routines, play, and learning experiences. Providers in inclusive programs learn to recognize children as individuals with unique strengths, needs, abilities, and interests. They continually make creative accommodations and modifications to routines, play, and learning activities so that each child benefits from participation.

The Maryland State Department of Education is dedicated to making high-quality child care and education programs accessible to all children. Therefore, aspects of quality related to inclusion are directly incorporated into Maryland EXCELS standards.

A Parent’s Guide to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Child Care provides families with information about how the ADA applies to child care programs.

How do I find a program that will meet my child’s needs?

Regardless of a child’s ability or disability, choosing child care can be challenging for families. Children with disabilities, according to the ADA, cannot be excluded from programs solely on the basis of their disability. It is important that families have the proper information and know the right questions to ask when looking for care for a child with special needs. Maryland Family Network offers LOCATEa free service that helps families find child care based on their child’s specific needs.

Can my child receive special services or therapy while in child care?

It is highly recommended that families involve their child care provider in the planning and/or implementation of their child’s Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) or Individualized Education Plan (IEP) so that their child receives the most comprehensive and complete system of services.

Tiered Reimbursement/Maryland EXCELS Payments

Tiered Reimbursement/Maryland EXCELS Payments pays quality differential payments to providers who accept Child Care Scholarship and have a Maryland EXCELS published quality rating of level 3, 4, or 5. Maryland EXCELS Payments range from 10 percent (10%) to 44 percent (44%), depending upon the age of the child, the type of care, and the quality rating of the program. The chart below shows the percentage of tiered reimbursement payments to programs. On the Invoice Detail Report, tiered reimbursement payments are shown as “EXCELS” payments for each child.

Maryland EXCELS Payments Maryland EXCELS Quality Rating
Level 3 Level 4 Level 5
Family Child Care

Under 2 years of age

11% 22% 29%

2 years of age and over

10% 21% 28%
Child Care Center

Under 2 years of age

22% 37% 44%

2 years of age and over

10% 19% 26%

Purpose and Use of Tiered Reimbursement/Maryland EXCELS Payments

The purpose of the Maryland EXCELS Payment is to provide recognition and incentive to the program for participating and achieving a Maryland EXCELS rating at the highest levels. Programs have choices regarding the use of the Maryland EXCELS Payment. For example, payments may be utilized to:

  • Offset the cost of child care for families receiving Child Care Scholarship
  • Provide salary and benefits enhancements for staff
  • Make quality improvements to the program

As part of the continuous quality improvement process, programs are encouraged to reflect and assess the needs of their program, with input from staff and families, when making decisions regarding the use of the Maryland EXCELS Payments.