What is inclusion?
Inclusion means that all families have the same child care choices; that all parents are able to decide for themselves where to send their children for child care.
The aim of Supported Child Development (SCD) is to engage families, child care settings and communities in planning for and providing inclusive child care in community settings that support the child’s developmental goals.
Supported Child Development will help to ensure that children who require extra support are able to participate in a typical child care program. An estimated 10% of all children have a need that requires some level of additional support and /or consultation to ensure their full participation in community based child care programs. These children are characterised as having disabilities, delays or disorders in the areas of physical, social, intellectual, communicative, emotional and/or behavioural development.
Principles of Inclusion:
- Zero Rejection
- no child will ever be excluded due to the level or type of disability
- Naturally Occurring Proportions
- programs include children with disabilities roughly in proportion to their occurrence in the general population
- Same Range of Options
- children with special needs must not be limited to shorter child care days or excluded from family or school-aged child care
- Full Participation
- necessary supports must be provided so that all children can participate to the best of their ability in all activities
Who Benefits From Inclusion?
- Children with special needs
- Typical children
- Child Care staff
Segregation is never appropriate
Segregation based on the needs of children unfairly excludes one group of children from culturally normative settings and therefore is never appropriate.
While we recognise that children with special needs benefit from being part of an inclusive setting, the same can be said about typical children. Children need to learn to get along comfortably with a wide variety of people and an inclusive setting encourages tolerance, understanding and cooperation in all children.
Keep in mind that a child with support needs can be segregated while taking part in a community program. If the following situations are evident in a program that “includes” children with support needs; then it is not an inclusive setting.
- The other children ask the support assistant for permission to play with the special needs child
- Children or staff introduce the support assistant as “Joey’s” Assistant
- No one else at the centre know the special care details for the child
- Support assistant is the only person to discipline the child
- The child sits with or walks beside the support assistant all the time
- Other children spend special time with the centre’s staff working on a project but the child with special needs always does this with the support assistant
Does Inclusion Work?
Research has revealed the following results:
- Typically developing children who attend inclusive, high quality programs have shown positive developmental and attitudinal outcomes
- Children with severe disabilities are not poor candidate for inclusive programming and can be successfully included
- Children in segregated settings demonstrate poor outcomes for retaining new skills. Children are more likely to use their newly learned skills in inclusive settings
- Inclusive settings were found to have superior outcomes when assessing social skills than segregated settings