The Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, College of Education and Human Development has been awarded a multi-component grant from the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council (DDC) to encourage families of young children with disabilities to focus on options for inclusive living and learning, rather than assuming that a segregated setting is the best or only option.

The grant titled Families Reimagining Inclusive Lives (FRIL) will work to educate, inform, and empower parents of young children with disabilities to embrace inclusive options and give them practical tools to achieve inclusive lives.

FRIL will be managed by the Institute's Associate Director of Policy, Jamie Ray-Leonetti. "This project targets parents of young children with disabilities because they are ultimately making the choices about where their children will play, learn, and receive support," said Ray-Leonetti.

"Our goal is to educate families with young children with intellectual and developmental disabilities on the benefits of selecting inclusive options for recreation, education, and living and on their rights to access these inclusive options."

Training Sessions to Enable Advocacy and Partnerships

The project will include training sessions to help family members to become advocates and partners, enabling them to more effectively collaborate with professionals on behalf of their child.

"Family leadership training has been a staple in the Institute's work," said Sally Gould-Taylor, Executive Director of the Institute. "As such, we are well-suited to lead such a project. Our relationships with families and professionals in the disability community are long-standing and productive."

The project staff, according to Ray-Leonetti, will include individuals with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities who have come through the systems of education and care.

The Institute will tap into its robust network of parent groups and leaders, as well as medical, early intervention and early childhood professionals to learn what child serving system professionals need and disseminate helpful and accurate information.

"We've already started preliminary planning for the project," Ray-Leonetti said. "We can't wait to start in earnest. Stay tuned..."