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Faculty of Community Services

Kathryn Underwood




416-979-5000, ext. 2519

Email Address:


  • Curriculum, teaching and learning.
  • Special Education policy and practice.
  • Early years service planning and delivery.


My research interests are in human rights and education practice particularly with regard to disability rights and inclusive education. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Faculty of Education, York University, and as a faculty member in the School of Early Childhood Studies, my research projects have spanned work in family-school relationships, special education policy, and early childhood education and care policy, in both Canada and internationally. I have been involved with over 20 research projects, with funding from government, the not-for-profit sector, and private foundations.

Research Interests:

Since coming to Ryerson University I have been involved with multiple projects focused on parent, staff and child viewpoints of early years services in early intervention, child care, Full Day Kindergarten, Ontario Early Years Centres and Parenting and Family Literacy Centres.

Research interests:

  • Disability theory in education
  • Early years service system planning and evaluation
  • Equity for young children and their families

Research projects:

Inclusive Early Childhood Service System Project
Year: 2015
Role: Principal investigator
Co-investigators and collaborators:

  • Kathleen Brophy, University of Guelph
  • Elaine Frankel, Ryerson University
  • Martha Friendly, Childcare Resource and Research Unit
  • Arlene Hache, Temiskaming Native Women's Support Group
  • Magdalena Janus, McMaster University
  • Donna Lero, University of Guelph
  • Karen Spalding
  • Kathryn Church
  • Henry Parada
  • Tricia van Rhijn
  • Wendy Freeman
  • Melanie Panitch


  • County of Wellington Child Care Services
  • The District of Timiskaming Social Services Administration Board
  • Timiskaming Native Women’s Support Group
  • The City of Hamilton
  • Niwasa Aborginal Eduation Programs
  • The City of Toronto
  • Native Child and Family Services of Toronto
  • The Childcare Resource and Research Unit
  • McMaster University
  • University of Guelph

Funded by:

  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council: Partnership Development Grant
  • The County of Wellington
  • The District of Timiskiming
  • The City of Toronto
  • The City of Hamilton

Funding amount: $487,489

Current Courses:

  • CS 8923: Social Justice in Education
  • CS 8902: Designing Curriculum
  • CLD 447: Equity Issues in Ontario Early Childhood Education and Care
  • CLD 445: Inclusion and Consultation
  • S18: Prevention science and disability studies: Strategies, programs and monitoring (University of Zagreb)

Selected Publications:


  • Snoddon, K. & Underwood, K. (in press). "A social relational model of Deaf childhood in action?" In K. Runswick-Cole, T. Curran, and K. Liddiard (Eds), Handbook of Disabled Children's Childhood Studies: Building Understandings. Palgrave.
  • Frankel, E. Underwood, K., & Goldstein, M. (in press). Principles and practices of early intervention. In I. Brown & M. Percy (Eds), A comprehensive guide to intellectual and developmental disabilities (2nd ed). Baltimore, MD: Brookes.
  • Frankel, E. & Underwood, K. (2012). Early Intervention for Young Children. In I. Brown and M. Percy (Eds), Developmental Disabilities in Ontario (3rd Ed), Toronto, OADD.

Journal articles:

  • Underwood, K., Di Santo, A., Valeo, A., & Langford, R. (in press). Partnerships in Full Day Kindergarten classrooms: Early Childhood Educators and Kindergarten Teachers working together. Canadian Children.
  • Bancroft, R. & Underwood, K. (Summer 2015). A vision for inclusive childcare: From principles to policy. Our Schools/ Our Selves.
  • Valeo, A., & Underwood, K. (2015) Analysis of Special Education Tribunal Outcomes Using Luhmann’s Systems Theory. International Journal of Special Education.
  • Underwood, K. & Trent-Kratz, M. (Spring/Summer 2015). Contributions of parenting and family literacy centres in an early childhood service system. The School Community Journal
  • Underwood, K., Chan, C., Koller, K. & Valeo, A. (2015). Understanding Young Children’s Capabilities: Approaches to interviews with young disabled children, Child Care in Practice. Jan. 15, 2014
  • Snoddon, K. & Underwood. K. (2013). Toward a Social Relational Model of Deaf Childhood. Disability & Society, 29(4), 530-542.
  • Thornton, C. & Underwood, K. (2013). Conceptualizations of Disability and Inclusion: Perspectives of Educators of Young Children. Early Years: An International Journal of Research and Development, 33(1), 59-73, Available online
  • Underwood, K. & Killoran, I. (2012). Parent and family perspectives on engagement: Lessons from the early years. Canadian Journal of Education. 35(4), 376 -414.
  • Graham, K., & Underwood, K., (2012) The reality of rurality: Rural parents’ experiences of early years services. Health & Place, 18(6), 1231–1239.
  • Underwood, K. & Frankel, E. (2012). The Developmental Systems Approach to Early Intervention in Canada. Infants & Young Children, 25(4), 286-296.
  • Underwood, K, Valeo, A. & Wood, R. (2012). Understanding Inclusive Early Childhood Education: A Capability Approach. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 13(4) 290-299.
  • Underwood, K. (2012). Mapping the early intervention system in Ontario, Canada. International Journal of Special Education. 27(2), 125-134. Available online:
  • Underwood, K. (2012). A case study of exclusion on the basis of behaviour (and experiences of migration and racialisation). International Journal of Inclusive Education, Volume 16, Issue 3, 313-329
  • Underwood, K. (2010). Involving and Engaging parents of children with IEPs Exceptionality Education International. Accepted March 12, 2010, 25 pages.

Other professional articles and policy submissions:

  • Underwood, K. & Parekh, G. (2016). Submission to Draft General Comment no. 4 Article 24 The right to inclusive education (January 15, 2016).

  • Parekh, G., & Underwood, K. (2015). Inclusion: Creating school and classroom communities where everyone belongs. Research, tips, and tools for educators and administrators. (Research Report No.15/16‐09). Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Toronto District School Board

  • Underwood, K. (2015). Inclusive Early Childhood Service System project, submission to the Day of General Discussion (DGD) on the right to education for persons with disabilities, (15 April 2015,at Palais des Nations, Geneva)

  • Underwood, K., Frankel, E. & Langford, E. (2013) Response to the Ministry of Education Discussion Paper on the Modernization of Child Care. Submission to the Ministry of Education (Ontario).

  • Underwood, K. (2013). Everyone is Welcome: Inclusive Early Childhood Education and Care. Toronto, ON: Ministry of Education. Accessed online:

  • Underwood, K. & Langford, R. (2012). Issues that Matter: ASD identification.  Toronto, ON: Aktinson Centre for Society and Child Development,

  • Underwood, K. & Langford, R. (2011). Children with Special Educational Needs in Early Childhood. Toronto, ON: Atkinson Centre for Society and Child Development, OISE/University of Toronto.

Professional Affiliations:

  • Scholarly, Research and Creative Activity Award, Faculty of Community Services, 2012

Position Currently Held:

Associate Professor

Creative Activity
Awards and honours

Contact details

Office assistant contact

  • Inclusive Early Childhood Service System Project office
  • 416-979-5000, ext. 7637

Office details

  • Office location: KHS 363-P, Kerr Hall South