Effectiveness of service delivery models in inclusive early childhood programs

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Child and Family Studies


Alan Taylor


Service delivery, Inclusive, Early childhood programs, Preschool

Subject Categories

Education | Family, Life Course, and Society | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


Inclusive early childhood services are provided to preschool children through varied models yet few studies have examined the effectiveness of these models of service delivery. This study examined outcomes for children, 3-5 years of age with disabilities, when services were delivered through a collaborative model and an itinerant model of service delivery in inclusive early childhood settings.

Social competence, a predictor of success in later life, is influenced by parents, teachers, and peers. The development of social skills is a goal of early childhood education programs and an imbedded concept of inclusion. Therefore, this study enlisted multiple informants (parents, teachers, and peer play observation) to examine child social competence as a measure of program effectiveness. The social competence of children did not differ significantly by service delivery model. However, classrooms with collaborative models of service delivery were found to be of significantly higher quality than itinerant model classrooms. The proportion of time spent in play levels varied by service delivery models and was relevant to the variation in quality.

Qualitative interviews with parents and teachers revealed that variation in process and structure factors of service delivery. Informal means was the primary form of communication by the team in both models of service delivery. The collaborative model provided structure for enhanced communication among members of the service delivery team. The itinerant model lacked structure for communication among members of the service delivery team and teachers frequently had little or no knowledge about a child's program. The itinerant model relied more heavily upon parents to communicate goals, strategies, and progress about the child's program.


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