The National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion was founded in 2015. At that time, less than 2% of all Catholic schools included students with intellectual disabilities in their parish schools. Students with physical disabilities were routinely turned away. There were zero inclusive college programs for these students at Catholic colleges or universities. Although there were regional efforts at inclusion in Catholic schools, there was very little national leadership, virtually no Catholic religious leaders - Bishops or Cardinals - or at any level speaking about this and no substantive way to create a network for these disparate advocacy groups.
Today, only about 2% of all Catholic schools are inclusive. A handful of Catholic colleges and universities have now welcomed a few students with intellectual disabilities. The effort is slow but the momentum is building and the exciting news is that inclusion in Catholic schools is now a topic on the minds of many Catholics.
Our non-profit has two primary efforts. First, we offer comfort, encouragement and educational research for families. If families want to approach their parish school and ask about inclusion, they can use our educational research on the benefits for all students when inclusion is the norm. They can also use the devastating research on the harmful effects of segregation. They can point to the specific area of Canon Law that supports inclusion. They can share stories of Catholic schools and dioceses who are currently successful with including these students in the margins. Most importantly, the families have a support system standing with them and willing to speak on their behalf. We keep and update a map of inclusive Catholic schools around the country.
Secondly, we offer support to the schools who say yes. We have mentors at every grade level and people willing to share their expertise on specific disabilities with any Catholic educator who is interested. They do this free of charge because they have been part of the transformative experience of an inclusive Catholic school and are willing to support the effort any way they can. These mentors are generous, faith-filled, approachable and vetted carefully. This is a network of support for the school that gives them the strength to go out and try something they have never done before and a network that can provide specifics and evidence-based best practices on how to be successful. Additionally, we offer an Inclusion Summit when the NCEA has their national conference and we offer a yearly Inclusive Catholic School Conference.The goal is to develop, encourage and support the incredible group of inclusive Catholic educators around the country. We also give a twice yearly award called The Dandy Award to inclusive Catholic educators who make inclusion happen without any formal support...simply because it is the right thing to do.
Lastly, we partner with anyone and everyone who believes in inclusion. This means we amplify the efforts of regional inclusive Catholic advocacy groups. We learn from the latest research from the best educational sources and share broadly. We collaborate with inclusion leaders that are in other spaces and across other educational arenas. We work at the preschool level and all the way up to the collegiate level to build Continuums of Inclusion and what Dr. Erik Carter so often refers to as essential to any human life: belonging. We use social media to share, educate and uplift.
Our Founder and Director is Beth Foraker.
You can find us on Facebook at The National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion and on Instagram and Twitter @inclusionchick.
Our website is: https://fullinclusionforcatholicschools.org/
Our email: email@example.com