I am extremely proud of our Supported Child Development (SCD) team and the supports they have provided since COVID-19 struck. In the early months of the pandemic, our staff excelled at developing new ways to support their children, developing new supports to assist children at a distance, video conferencing with children, and even engaging with their children (at a distance) at their children’s home. Throughout the year, our staff had to embraced new technologies; this included participating in video conferenced meetings, making much greater use of electronic forms, etc. They also demonstrated tremendous commit- ment, returning to childcare programs when relatively little was known about how COVID-19 was spread.
The SCD program continues to be extremely busy, providing exceptional support for children with diverse abilities in preschools, daycares and after school care programs. We supported on average 57 children in 21 early childhood care and learning (ECCL) programs from August 2020 to August 2021. Demand has increased dramatically for our services over the last several years; we now have over 100 children waitlisted for SCD support. COVID affected the number of children SCD supported last year, as some ECCL programs were operating with lower numbers of children. As well, parents were understandably cautious about their children attending programs during the pandemic.
Our support staff took part in additional training opportunities in the early months of the pandemic – while most ECCL programs were closed. In addition, and along side several CDC therapists and some community partners, all of the SCD staff were able to participate in self-regulation training this year. The Take 5! training was a two-day program that took a strength-based approach to social and emotional learning that integrated trauma-informed and trauma-responsive practice. It was great training that will have a positive impact on how we provide our support.
SCD will continue to support and collaborate in community child care programs. This is a particularly exciting time of growth and change within the early years sector, both provincially and locally. Progress includes the provincial government’s announcement of $10 a Day Child Care, and the creation of eight new ECCL programs in the city of PG within the next couple of years.
Advocacy now needs to intensify towards addressing the need for increased funding and resources for children with diverse abilities who require extra supports in ECCL programs. Every voice is valued when advocating for children with diverse abilities; this includes the voices of parents, ECCL providers, CDC staff and community service providers.
SCD Manager and Consultant