The INSPIRE ACTION framework was developed to assist those responsible for administrative oversight of local early childhood special education programs to identify and celebrate strong program components and to identify those program components most in need of improvement. The development was sparked by recognition that many local program leaders (e.g., Directors of Special Education, elementary principals, some special education coordinators) have limited knowledge of early childhood special education and are unable to consistently determine the presence or absence of ECSE program quality.

Responsive Interactions and Environments


High-quality, responsive instructional interactions occur when teachers, related service providers and paraprofessionals provide children with feedback about their ideas, comment in ways that extend and expand their skills and attention, and regularly use discussions and activities to promote more complex thinking. Teachers and other classroom adults who provide high emotional support smile and laugh with children, are enthusiastic and provide comfort and assistance to children throughout the day. Respectful relationships and responsive engagement must be considered in terms of relationships and engagement with families as well as children. Relationships are enhanced when staff share information about children’s learning with the family and actively listen to each family’s values, views and opinions.

“The physical space and emotional environment…actively engages all children in a variety of learning experiences and settings and supports the health and wellness of children and adults” (Kauerz & Coffman 2013, p. 17).


Professional Standards

DEC Recommended Practices
DEC Recommended Practices are a DEC initiative that bridges the gap between research and practice, offering guidance to parents and professionals who work with young children who have or are at risk for developmental delays or disabilities.

Minnesota Early Childhood Indicators of Progress (ECIPs)
The ECIPs are Minnesota’s early learning standards. Revised and expanded in 2016, these standards are a framework for a common set of developmentally appropriate expectations for children ages birth to kindergarten, within a context of shared responsibility for helping children meet these expectations. The ECIPs are aligned to the Minnesota Kindergarten Academic Standards.


Foundational Resources: Understand the Basics


Readiness Resources: Deepen Knowledge and Prepare to Implement


Implementation Resources: Apply and Practice


PDF-Guided Resources and Support

Please contact your regional PDF if you have investigated all resources provided here, but continue to have questions or concerns related to this core component of INSPIRE ACTION.

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