Many children in Ottawa-Carleton who have special needs are able to attend regular licensed child care programs. Special needs children are those with a physical handicap, an identifiable syndrome such as Down Syndrome, or who have a significant developmental delay in areas such as speech and language, social/emotional or motor skills. To accommodate children who may require adapted strategies and programming, nursery schools, day care centres and home child care programs work in partnership with Children's Integration Support Services (CISS).
CISS is a bilingual program funded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Region of Ottawa-Carleton. To qualify for the services children must be between 6 weeks and 10 years of age and attending licensed child care. Referrals can be made by families, referring agencies or child care programs.
Once a referral has been made to CISS, the eligibility of the child to receive support is determined based on medical or psychological assessments. On completion of this process a support plan for the child is developed in co-operation with the parents and the child care programs. Integration Advisors facilitate the development of a Team Service Plan using a case conference approach and offer ongoing consultation and training to child care programs. Some programs may require Program Assistants to enrich the child/staff ratio so as to include a child with higher physical needs, or to deal with a safety issue for the child or the other children. A Behaviour Management Consultant can provide support through consultation services as well as training in cases where there are behavioural issues in the child care setting.
Parents and the child care programs have become major partners in the care and development of children with special needs. The relationship is facilitated by the Integration Advisor who provides strategies and suggestions in ways to include and support the child's development. CISS also operates a comprehensive resource library at 700 Industrial Avenue for use by parents and programs as well as an equipment and toy library.
We have learned that successful inclusion of children with special needs means effective and supportive partnerships. This means understanding and valuing everyone's role within each setting. The system now supports possibilities for children and not just their disability. For more information regarding the CISS program please call 736-1913.