An inclusive child care program is one that:
- is child and family centred
Parents are consulted for their knowledge and opinions on a regular basis (regarding, for example, specific needs of children, families and communities). Parents are encouraged to provide input into and take part in the evaluation of programs and services (for example, by serving as members of the centre's board of directors or advisory committee, being included in meetings when individualized program plans are developed for children)
- accords dignity
When staff and board members receive training, emphasis is given to the value and dignity of all persons and the need to ensure that all people are treated with dignity and respect.
- facilitates inclusion
Staff seek to eliminate barriers to inclusion, including perceived cost or time barriers. Examples include provision of an interpreter, scheduling meetings at times convenient to parents, seeking training that will support a specific need in the program etc.
- promotes diversity
Children are encouraged to accept and respect differences (e.g. through storytelling, posters, displays, toys and equipment played with by children, positive examples set by staff and parents, etc.).
- ensures physical well-being
The program is designed and continually reviewed to ensure the safety of all children at all times.
- ensures emotional/mental well-being
Children are encouraged to celebrate each other and to ensure that no child is left out. Staff model a welcoming and caring attitude along with ensuring a supportive environment.
- ensures social well-being
The attitudes of staff create an atmosphere that enhances the development of healthy social relationships. Behaviour that may lead to the exclusion or marginalization of any staff, parent or child is not tolerated.
- envisions a future
Staff are given sufficient information from a variety of credible sources to help them to form realistic and valuing expectations for each child and for their future development and participation in the life of the community.
- These indicators should be applied with equal rigour to all program elements, such as the physical environment, equipment and materials, children's relationships with peers, program planning, involvement of parents and caregivers, attitudes and training.
How Can You Tell if a Program is Inclusive?
- Is there a statement about inclusion within the centre's Parent Policy Manual?
- How are the goals for your child embedded in the ongoing activities and routines each day?
- Do all the children participate in all the activities meaningfully?
- How are program staff trained and supported? Are they trained as Early Childhood Educators? Do they have access to a Special Needs Consultant or Resource Teacher? Do they participate in ongoing training?
- Are you welcomed and encouraged to be at the centre and on outings if you desire?
- How are transitions to school managed at this centre?
- Will your child be welcome to attend the same hours and days as the other children attend (if desired)?
Important things for families to know:
Adapted from "Making Inclusion Real - A Guide for Parents and Professionals" by the Canadian Association for Community Living
- Play is a child's work and your child should be allowed to learn through play, rather than only through structured interventions and therapies.
- It is your child's right not to be discriminated against, based on disability, gender, race or social-economic circumstance.
- It is your right to be active in the selection of the program that is the best fit for your child and your family.
- It is your right to be active in the planning of your child's program with the staff at the centre and other professionals.
- It is your right to be an integral part of the team and the decision making process about your child.
- You have the right to be informed of all programs available so you can make the appropriate choice for your child/family.
- It is okay to ask questions - you should never hesitate or be made to feel reluctant to ask questions.