Parents should be active participants in the selection of child care programs, entrusting their children and giving their business to those childcare providers that are committed to early learning that is inclusive of everyone. The city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, has produced an informative resource about inclusive child care that lists factors that should be considered by any parent searching for child care.
The Toronto website identifies inclusive child care programs as those that are child- and family-centred, emphasize dignity in their staff training, actively seek to eliminate barriers to inclusion, promote diversity, and ensure all aspects of children’s well-being. Supporting these features can involve creating an atmosphere in which no one is left out of any activities and using such educational materials (stories, posters, toys) that encourage respect of differences.
In order to tell if a program is inclusive, parents should look for a statement regarding inclusion in its policy manual. Parents should be made to feel welcome, as well as comfortable asking questions and providing input. In observing a program, it should appear that all children are participating in all activities meaningfully, and not only structured activities. Play is the work of children, and all children should have opportunities to engage in unstructured play. It is important to note how transitions are managed. Staff should be trained as early childhood educators and have access to a resource teacher or other consultant.
To read the guide in full, click here.