What Do We Mean by Inclusion?

Our focus in this project is on helping parents to stay actively involved in their young children’s learning, growth and development as the children move into wider community settings and activities (e.g., day care, school, recreation, new friends from different backgrounds).

In our thinking, we see inclusion put into action:

(a) when all parents and their children are welcomed into neighbourhood/community activity, local programs, and community institutions.

(b) when families with particular and diverse barriers to participation in the community get the resources and support that they need for their children to learn, grow and develop.

(c) when parents with varying needs support each in common cause to promote the creation of responsive and stimulating early learning programs, institutions, and systems for all children.

Revised by Kids & Community Partners
Social Planning Network of Ontario
DESIGN session January 12, 2006

Our Beliefs about Parent Exclusion and Inclusion

  • Critical Early learning Years. The early years (from infancy to six) are very important years of development for all children.
  • Injustice and Inequality Leave Many Out or Behind. Poverty, racism, disability, and other forms of inequality can push many children and families to the outside of community life and can make them sense that they do not belong.
  • Barriers to Smooth Transitions. Children from low income families, or ethno-racial minority communities, or with special needs can find it difficult to make a smooth transition from family-based life to wider community life.
  • Sense of Parent Powerlessness. Parents can also experience anxiety and frustration about how much help they can give to their children as they make the transition to the wider community and to other settings like schools.
  • Institutional Resistance to Parents. Many agencies and institutions do not welcome and encourage parent participation in programs and services for their children.
  • Legitimacy of Parental Voice. Parents should be able to have an important voice in the larger community environment into which their children enter in their early years.
  • Recognition of Parental Capacity. Parents have the ability to play a meaningful ongoing role in their children’s learning.
  • Focus for Shift to Inclusion. Strategies for parent inclusion must:
    (a) address issues such as racism, poverty, isolation, and discrimination that keep parents from being involved in their children’s growth and development;
    (b) actively support parents in planning and decision-making related to their children; and
    (c) promote real change that reduces inequality, brings people in communities closer together, and shares resources and power.

Kids & Community Project
February 23-24, 2006