Inclusion must begin with early education
IHC is calling on the Government to work more closely with the early childhood sector so that young children with disabilities aren’t waiting months for specialist help.
Startling new statistics from the Ministry of Education, as reported by RNZ, reveal pre-schoolers with disabilities are waiting longer than ever.
IHC Director of Advocacy Trish Grant says it’s not fair that children should have to have to wait an average of three months for specialist support, and says more of an effort needs to be made to make early childhood education inclusive.
“We know that for all children the early years of life are critical,” says Trish. “For children with disabilities, and their families, to face road blocks from the outset in education is unacceptable.
“They should have the same opportunity to learn, explore and play as their peers.
“We strongly support Whānau Manaaki, which has been doing such terrific work on behalf of kindergartens around the Wellington region, to ensure all children can attend and be part of their local ECE centre.
“We stand by their view that it's a long time in the life of a child to have to wait days and days, let alone months and months, for access to specialist services.”
IHC is calling for reasonable accommodations to be made to enable and support adapting practices in ECE centres, and for supports to be put in place for individual children in need.
“The Government needs to work more closely with the early childhood sector so that children with disabilities and their families aren’t left out of early childhood education,” says Trish.
“This also needs to be a collaborative approach with the Ministry of Health and Disability Support Services, so that access to universal services and government support are seamless, flexible and timely – and is focused on what is best for the child.
“IHC has always championed for children with disabilities to be included in their local school communities, and this starts with early education.”