Should a 2-year-old child who needs special support be given the same opportunities for development as another young person of the same age?
The question may seem shocking because the answer seems obvious and unanimous to everyone. However, currently the answer to this question is no. This 2-year-old child will not have access to the same opportunities due to his needs and her particularities. A discriminatory reality that many families face, as indicated by the Observatory’s recent report on young children who need special support.
The issues raised in the report concern us. In fact, we observe that the long wait to obtain health network services and the support necessary to meet the needs of a child in daycare has important consequences.
Embrace the difference
No child should have to wait so long to receive services from a health professional, or even be denied a place or receive a lesser service in daycare because of their delay. In addition to these unacceptable delays for a society that claims to want to act soon, these children face various prejudices. We compare him and then perceive his difficulties before even considering him, above all, an only child, like all children!
As citizens, we all have a responsibility to promote equal opportunities and accept differences. It is a responsibility shared by parents, child care staff, the health network, the Ministry of Families, as well as all other actors involved with the child.
For over 30 years, our consultation has brought together a diverse range of organizations concerned about inclusion. While human and financial resources are important to adequately meet the needs of children, we believe it is equally essential to improve intersectoral practices. The situations reported by our members show that even today there is great confusion regarding the roles of each person.
In 2021, our consultation produced a report recommending areas of improvement for decision makers and stakeholders involved in the child integration process. The main recommendation to provide equal opportunities to all children is to implement collaboration mechanisms and establish fluid communications between the actors involved through agreements, links and alliances. We must establish a distribution of responsibilities aimed at the well-being of the child and take advantage of everyone’s experience to better support the little ones.
The government must now establish a framework agreement based on the reality on the ground that, among other things, clarifies the roles and responsibilities of each person, establishes channels for the transfer of information between children’s educational services, the health network, parents and school.
Working in silos belongs to another era. It is time to focus on a child-centred approach, promote difference-sensitive practices, and truly support interprofessional and cross-sector collaboration.
We must act collectively and quickly, together we can build a more just and inclusive society from early childhood!