Excerpts from Highlights:
As more children with special needs are included in community child care settings, the relationship between overall program quality and inclusion quality in child care becomes increasingly critical. Whether one views effective inclusion as an optional add-on to high quality programs or as a more recently recognized dimension of high quality child care, the two concepts are inextricably linked. High quality programs are important for all children. And children with special needs most certainly benefit much more in programs that not only provide opportunities for social interactions with others, but also afford them opportunities to develop their skills and abilities in stable, well-run programs that are attentive to their needs and to their parents' concerns.
Inclusion: The Next Generation continues a program of research on inclusive child care which was begun by Sharon Hope Irwin in 1990 and now involves Professors Donna Lero and Kathleen Brophy from the University of Guelph. Our earlier research (A matter of urgency: including children with special needs in child care in Canada, 2000) identified what centre directors, front-line teaching staff, and traveling resource consultants perceived to be important factors for successful inclusion. That research led to the development of theoretical models of virtuous and discouraging cycles. Our current work both deepens and extends that research.
This report presents findings from our two most recent studies of inclusive child care in Canada. Study 1 is based on further analysis of the data collected from centre directors and teaching staff and explores the role of centre directors as inclusion leaders. Study 2 is based on new data collected from 32 centres in four provinces. Questionnaires, interviews and observations were used to determine the importance of centre quality and other resources within centres - particularly human resources - that affect inclusion quality. The nature of resources and supports provided to centres was explored in some detail, and two models for supporting inclusive programs were compared. The results of these two studies have important implications for policy, research, and practice aimed at ensuring that all centres have the capacity to offer high quality, inclusive care.