Creating inclusive child-care spaces

March 28, 2013, University of Alberta

Researchers from the University of Alberta are teaming up with child-care providers and day-home operators to ensure they have adequate training and support needed to offer inclusive spaces for children with disabilities.

Lesley Wiart was the lead author of a new study that identified challenges in providing inclusive spaces for with physical disabilities, cognitive impairments and . The research showed that many Alberta child-care centres and day homes support inclusion but sometimes lack training and support.

"Even though providers overwhelmingly have about inclusion, they still experience some barriers to including kids with disabilities in their programs," said Wiart, an assistant clinical professor in the Faculty of .

Wiart surveyed 318 child-care centres and 25 day homes in Alberta for her study, which showed that 91 per cent of centre-based programs had provided inclusive care in the previous two years. The most inclusive programs typically featured more training for staff who knew how to get access to specialized support services, had higher staff-to-children ratios and were physically accessible.

However, the study also showed that 36 per cent of centres and 29 per cent of day homes had turned away children with special needs because programs were at capacity, the child required more attention than staffing levels could accommodate, staff had inadequate training or the space was physically unsuitable.

The survey found that most centres and day homes—60 per cent and 53 per cent, respectively—had used specialized support services for children with special needs; however, more than a third—36 per cent of centres and 40 per cent of day homes—were unaware of how to do so.

Wiart, a pediatric physical therapist who conducted this research as her post-doctoral project in the Faculty of Nursing, says the aim of this research was to identify the issues that can inform policy and service delivery to support inclusion for in early learning and care settings.

"There is a definite need for targeted training and support for staff at child-care centres around inclusion practices."

Research influences child care

Wiart's research influenced a new pilot program offered by Getting Ready for Inclusion Today (GRIT), which receives funding to support inclusion of children in care settings.

With funding from Alberta Education, the not-for-profit created a program called Access, Supports and Participation (ASaP) that models a continuum of supports and services for inclusion in child-care settings, said executive director Barb Reid. Ensuring programs have flexible funding is one of the keys to ensuring inclusion, she says.

"You can have a really strong, quality child-care centre, but to move it from a quality child-care centre to a quality, inclusive centre takes more intentional provision of resources and supports."

The ASaP pilot is currently being offered at five care centres in Edmonton, including the MacEwan Child Care Centre. Director Joan MacDonald said the pilot will eventually expand to 10 sites, noting Wiart's research provides an opportunity to address the many of providing inclusive child care.

"An opportunity is there to engage in dialogue and problem-solve with professionals who have expertise and skill in working with children of varying abilities. That's an important interface for us in this project," she said.

Before her enrolment at MacEwan, Christy Raymond-Seniuk's daughter Sydney struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder and separation anxiety—issues that were initially recognized with help from qualified staff at the centre, she said.

Raymond-Seniuk said Sydney qualified for funding through GRIT for a part-time aide five days a week, along with consultations from specialists like occupational therapists. Without it, the MacEwan nursing instructor and PhD student likely would have been forced to stay home.

"Once we put supports in place, it was just amazing to see the changes," she said. "My child became part of a group and interacted with the rest of the children, which you always wish for as a parent."

Explore further: High-quality child care found good for children -- and their mothers

More information: Wiart's research was published this month in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Inclusive Education.

Related Stories

High-quality child care found good for children -- and their mothers

February 8, 2012
High-quality early child care isn't important just for children, but for their mothers, too. That's the conclusion of a new study by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin; the study appears in the journal Child ...

Child care subsidies boost quality of care for some but not all

June 14, 2012
The federally funded child care subsidy program is among the government's biggest investments in the early care and education of low-income children. A new study has found that subsidies have the potential to enhance the ...

New study highlights how child care providers can be part of the solution for childhood obesity

November 8, 2012
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys revealed that over 21% of children 2 to 5 years old were considered overweight or obese. Child care settings can serve as a platform to teach children about nutrition ...

Most children with head injuries are seen in hospitals not equipped to treat them

May 23, 2011
More than four fifths of children who turn up at emergency departments with head injuries in the UK are seen in hospitals which would have to transfer them if the injury was serious, reveals a study published online in Emergency ...

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.