THE Child Development and Guidance Centre (CDGC) completed the training of 51 day-care and preschool administrators and teachers in Inclusion of Children with special needs in mainstream early childhood centres.
In St. Lucia, children with developmental delays have the opportunity for early medical intervention for their developmental delays through the Child Development and Guidance Centre. The earlier the child’s need are identified, the more rapidly intervention can commence.
Currently there are established developmental screenings that occur in the Community Health centres by community nurses at 6 weeks, 8 months, 18 months, 3 years and 5 years. When they are performed, these screenings identify many children with delays, however some children never get screened.
Children with delays or disabilities often have difficulty being accepted into day-care and preschools and in maintaining their placements. In addition they often do not receive appropriate teaching and stimulation at their early childhood centres.
In 2012 The CDGC had an open forum for public and private preschool administrators. There were 15 schools represented and the outcomes were as follows:
• The prevalence of children with identified developmental problems in each school was between 5 -10% of the total number of children enrolled at the represented schools.
• Less than half of the staff at the centres had any exposure to special education training or in the identification of developmental disabilities.
• The administrators reported that their staff would benefit from more training in the following areas: language development, working with children with speech and language difficulties and physical difficulties, techniques for handling children with swallowing difficulties, communicating with non-verbal children (including children with autism and selective mutism), techniques for dealing with difficult behaviours and coping with a child’s frustration.
After these concerns were identified, the CDGC planned a training programme for day-care and preschool teachers aimed at increasing their knowledge of developmental problems and imparting hands on skills on how to appropriately intervene.
The Rotary Club of Gros Islet, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education – Early Childhood Services Unit provided the funds for training the first set of practitioners., from April 13 to 16. Teachers and administrators from the North and the South of St Lucia and from both the public and private centres attended and participated in a successful programme. There are a total of 480 early childhood workers in St Lucia and the CDGC hopes to provide training for them all over the next year. This will allow all our children to reach their maximum potential.