Yesterday, the Kentucky Out-of-School Alliance (KYOSA) kicked off Summer Learning Week with a special webinar: “Serving Kids with Disabilities When School Is Out.” During this webinar, we discussed the importance of providing a welcoming and supportive out-of-school time environment for children of all abilities, talked about common disability myths and stereotypes, and gave participants the opportunity to learn about inclusion best practices from experts in the field. Special guests included: Melissa Beck, Education & Training Specialist at Kids Included Together (KIT); Judith Bradley, Founder of Jack Be Nimble; and Ian Smith, Founder of Skool Aid.
A recording of the webinar is available on our YouTube page, but can be accessed directly at https://youtu.be/k-0wT84orpw. Please feel free to share it with your team and any other organizations or individuals who may be interested.
Resources shared during the webinar:
- Melissa shared KIT’s Inclusion Checklist for Programs, a free resource available through https://learnonline.kit.org/store. To access, just follow this link and click on the “About KIT/FREE” button at the top of the page. Scroll down to find the Inclusion Checklist for Programs along with dozens of other free resources available from KIT to support inclusion if kids with disabilities within out-of-school time programs and settings.
- Ian and Jacob shared a video and information about Skool Aid’s Disability Awareness program, which is aimed at dispelling myths about persons with disabilities. Skool Aid is based in Northern Kentucky, but provides out-of-school time programming to the tristate area.
- Stephanie shared a free Inclusion Toolkit for After School Programs, developed by the Special Needs Inclusion Project (SNIP), which contains: sample policies, forms, and mission/vision statements; examples and strategies for adapting and modifying activities; sample inclusion plans; and more.
- Tom shared KYOSA’s Advocacy Toolkit, which contains a wealth of information that out-of-school time providers and stakeholders can use to help make the case for “building back better” and meaningfully including kids with disabilities in out-of-school time programs and settings as we move out of the pandemic.
- KIT’s Ready, Set, Summer! Series (available until 8/15/21): To help out-of-school time programs create a fun and memorable summer experience for all campers this year and beyond, KIT has created a course for summer camp directors and their staff. Ready, Set, Summer! Is a series of 4 webinars and companion guides that summer programs can use to: plan for inclusion, train staff on appropriate responses to challenging behaviors, and set themselves up for a smooth and successful summer season.
- Barriers to Quality Child Care & Out of School Time Activities in Maryland: Report by the Developmental Disabilities Council in Maryland that provides empirical evidence from survey and interview data about the barriers to serving children with disabilities in out-of-school time settings, as reported by families and program providers. Outlines recommendations to improve programs, policies, and practices so more families can access inclusive child care and out-of-school time activities for their children with disabilities.
- Afterschool and Students with Special Needs: Issue brief from the Afterschool Alliance that highlights the effectiveness of afterschool programming in offering children with special needs an opportunity to develop alongside their non-disabled peers. The benefits of afterschool for kids with special needs include: improved performance on standardized tests, mastery of individualized education goals, higher grades, improved behavior and increased motivation to learn.
- Together Beyond the School Day: Including Youth with Disabilities in Out-of-School Time Programs: Guide produced by the Maryland Disability Law Center that provides detailed information for parents and program providers on the federal laws mentioned in today’s presentation (i.e. Section 504, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)) as they apply to out-of-school time programs and settings.
For schools and school districts, the U.S. Department of Education announced on June 9, 2021 that, related to the American Rescue Plan (ARP), they will be releasing additional guidance on supporting students with disabilities in during out-of-school time hours before the end of the summer. We will update you on this as soon as more information becomes available.
Finally, are you a parent or caregiver of a school-age child with a disability or special needs? If so, the Kentucky Out-of-School Alliance (KYOSA) is looking for parents and caregivers of school-age children with a disability or special needs who are willing to share their experiences. We are looking for stories that focus on experiences accessing and participating in out-of-school time programs among this group of children to help shape our advocacy work in this area. If you are interested in sharing your story, or know of anyone who would be interested, please contact Stephanie Barker at firstname.lastname@example.org.