Helping You Meet the Requirements: Supporting Newcomer Children With Special Needs

It is important to meet the needs of all children, but early intervention is particularly critical for a child with special needs.  That being said, many newcomer parents are not aware of the supports available to assist their child.

The good news is that your program can help.  In fact, there are two things you must do to support these families…and meet CNC requirements:

  1. If a child has an existing Individualized Program Plan (IPP), your program is required to work to accommodate it.
  2. If you do not have expertise or resources to meet the child’s needs, you must help parents locate more appropriate care and support in the community.

Accommodating an Individualized Program Plan 

An IPP identifies a child’s specific learning styles and targets individual goals and objectives based on the needs identified by parents and professionals. An IPP also provides information about how these goals and objectives can be addressed in a childcare program.

In line with the principles of child-centered care, an IPP allows children to explore and play in ways that complement their various learning styles.

It is important to note that your program is not responsible for creating an IPP. However, it is your responsibility to implement an existing one—and track the child’s progress towards meeting the goals set out in the plan.

So, when you receive a copy of a child’s IPP, what do you need to do?

First, you need to carefully review the IPP’s short-term objectives, which are specific skills, as well as the long-term goals, which are target areas that the child will be working on over a period of time.

Next, thoroughly go over the list of accommodations—supports that you can provide to maximize the child’s participation—and the strategies or techniques you can use to assist in skill development.

Then, it’s time to put the IPP into practice…how you will address the child’s objectives using his/her strengths and interests, provide accommodations and employ strategies in daily program planning. For example, if a child has a short attention span but loves the water, you might provide water play opportunities during free play time with the objective of increasing attention span. An accommodation could beto have the child be in the first group at the water table, while the strategy could be to set a timer with the aim of gradually increasing the amount of time spent at the activity.

Finally, you are expected to keep track of the child’s progress with his/her IPP objectives. For your reference, we are providing a sample IPP data collection form to chart activities and routines implemented to support IPP objectives.

If you are uncertain about any of the steps involved in implementing an IPP, you can always contact your special needs consultant.


Working with Families to Find Additional Supports

There may come a time when, in spite of best efforts, your program does not have the resources or expertise to meet the special needs of a child. Then, it becomes your job to help parents locate more appropriate care and support in the community.

If this is the case, before speaking with family you should prepare by compiling a list of possible supports available. You may also wish to involve a settlement worker in the process.

Communicating this information to families is key, as your approach could affect their response. For some newcomer families, the news may be surprising or they may consider it a private, family matter.

They may need time to process the information and share their feelings about what you are telling them.  If they seem hesitant to move forward with suggestions for additional support, you will need to explain the importance of early intervention and how not acting may lead to more serious issues.

Some may be nervous about the costs associated with specialized care. Walk them through the available options, and explain that many of these services are offered at no cost through our health care system or community resources.  Also explain how they can access appropriate child care programs that can accommodate special needs, as well as subsidies available.

While letting the family know that the final decision rests with them, you can then work with them to develop an action plan.

Support Resources

Here are some ideas of organizations you can engage and/or refer parents to:

Settlement and Community Resources

You may have settlement services within your organization. If you don’t, find a location close by and get brochures and resources to share. Some other useful settlement resources include:

  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada website can direct you to local settlement services and organizations.
  • Integration-Net is a communications, information and research tool funded by Citizenship and Immigration to support the work of the Canadian settlement community. It also provides a means to develop both a national and international exchange of information and ideas about best practices on integration strategies and programs in order to share and learn from the experience of others.
  • Settlement.Org offers information in more than 30 languages as well as links to resources across the province of Ontario, such as Newcomer Information Centres.

Child Care and Subsidies

Child care options for children with special needs, as well as child care subsidies, are offered in different provinces.

Family Resource Programs/Early Years Centres

Family resource centres are offered in different provinces. The following offer a range of services and supports to children and their caregivers:

Healthcare Resources

Your program may have existing relationships with local health care professionals to whom referrals can be made, such as family doctors, pediatricians, nurses, occupational therapists, social workers and child psychologists.

If not, you can seek support from your local public health office.

Still need help?

If, after reviewing this information, you are still in doubt about this requirement, your CMAS consultant can always help!