Early CHOICES is a Preschool Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) Initiative of the Illinois State Board of Education. We promote increasing high quality inclusive education for each and every preschool aged child by providing technical assistance and professional development to early childhood professionals and families in Illinois. In September, 2015, the US Departments of Education and Health and Human Services jointly released a Policy Statement on Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs, which states that all young children with disabilities should have access to inclusive high-quality early childhood programs, where they are provided with individualized and appropriate support in meeting high expectations. This policy statement supports our work and we will share how this can be used this to support access to inclusive options.
Ann Kremer is the Project Director for Early CHOICES whose mission is to increase high quality inclusive opportunities for young children. She has been working towards inclusive education her entire career. Ann has a bachelors in Elementary Education and Masters in Early Childhood Education. Ann is committed to this work as a professional and also as a parent of a young man with Down syndrome. Her son, now out of school, was included in general education classes from preschool through to his graduation and continues to be an active participant in his community.
Emily Ropars is a Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) Specialist with Early CHOICES and the Coordinator for the Award of Excellence for Inclusion of Children with Special needs. Emily has a bachelors in English and a Masters in Special Education, specializing in Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education. She has worked as a teacher and consultant in many types of educational settings and as a developmental therapist in home visiting programs. Emily has supported inclusion throughout her career and is a parent to a spirited 6 year old boy.