Mission The mission of the UAH Early Learning Center is to: Provide exemplary services based on recommended practices to young children with diverse abilities and their families; Offer instructional opportunities through collaboration with various academic units in higher education; Engage in research that positively influences practice in the field of early childhood education at the local, state, and national levels; Interface with the community through outreach activities; Disseminate information and provide technical assistance to other community-based agencies; and Affect policy and system changes at the local, state, and national levels. Philosophy and Goals The goals of the UAH Early Learning Center are to (a) provide family-centered services designed to meet the individualized needs of all children and families; (b) provide a blend of educational and therapy services within the context of a developmentally appropriate curriculum; and (c) prepare young children for their next educational environment. The program adheres to the philosophy and recommended practices of both early childhood education and early childhood special education and child development. The philosophy is based on the following premises: Services are family-centered with particular emphasis placed on the family as the primary decision-maker in each child’s education. The assessment process is dynamic and ongoing and includes multiple procedures, information sources, and settings. Assessment is linked to instruction. Any therapy services needed are designed around an individualized plan consisting of goals and outcomes based on family’s concerns, priorities, and resources; the child’s strengths and needs; and expectations of the next environment. Any needed therapy services may vary in intensity and structure. Services are based on the individual needs of children and families. Children’s development is promoted in all areas including gross and fine motor skills, independence, cognitive skills, communication, and social-emotional skills. Any therapy services (i.e., physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and music therapy) are provided within the context of the educational environment using an integrated approach. Therapy goals are educationally relevant and are implemented collaboratively by the therapists and teaching staff. The foundation of the learning environment and activities is based on general early childhood education guidelines which are blended with recommended practices from early childhood special education. Specially designed instruction and curricular adaptations and accommodations are embedded in the daily activities of the classroom. The curriculum is designed to foster children’s self-confidence, self-esteem, independence and curiosity. The curriculum includes functional objectives that support children in their current environment and prepare them for more inclusive environments. The curriculum reflects a balance between teacher and child-initiated activities. The program addresses the children’s transitions from one classroom to another and transitions to other more inclusive educational environments.