Inclusion of preschoolers with disabilities in programs for typically developing children has a strong legal, rational, moral, and empirical basis. Despite this compelling foundation, however, the desirability of inclusion continues to be debated and acceptable options for inclusive placements are often difficult to find. In this paper, we argue that professionals and parents are often placed in a position in which inclusion must be weighed against other compelling values in making decisions about placements for children. We describe three competing values—high-quality programs, specialized services, and family-centered practices—and demonstrate how in many communities these values and inclusion are difficult to achieve simultaneously. We argue that placement in inclusive settings should be a goal for all children with disabilities, but that placements should also be of high quality, sufficiently specialized, and consistent with family priorities. We conclude with a series of recommendations for changes needed if this goal is to be attained.
Inclusion in the context of competing values in early childhood education