The Inclusive Early Childhood Service System (IECSS) is a 14-year partnership that seeks to understand the institutional interactions of families who have young children with disabilities. The study has three specific objectives.
Understanding families’ earliest experiences with early childhood services helps us as a society to understand the construction of some children as disabled. The project adopts an Institutional Ethnography approach through annual interviews with families over a 3-year period. This study of institutional practices draws on more than 115 interviews with mothers, foster parents, fathers, adoptive and guardian parents, and grandparents.
We consider how the construction of children and families in these services intersects with cultural identities. For example, we are examining how disability can develop as a cultural experience, into a positive self-concept in adulthood. The project seeks to develop theoretical models of the social networks created by services, families, and the communities in which people live.
Our ultimate goal is to inform social policy from the perspective of families, and to create a more complex discourse on early childhood disability that is grounded in a positive understanding of diverse abilities in childhood.