Early Childhood Education and Care services (ECEC) sometimes find it challenging to provide inclusive and optimal learning environments for children who are currently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum disorder (ASD) or are undergoing diagnosis.
But a newly launched initiative called the 'Autism Champions project' - funded by the Department of Education Skills and Employment (DESE) under the Inclusion Support program (ISP) – aims to change this.
The project is contracted to roll out over 12 months and is delivered by the Autism association.
Communicare, lead partner of the WA Inclusion Agency (WAIA), delivers the ISP to childcare services across Western Australia alongside partnering agencies One Tree and Wanslea.
Recently, the team signed a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Autism Association which has aided the uptake of the Autism Champions Project, leading to nearly 70 childcare services registering as Autism Champions.
WAIA Program Manager Debbie Brown, was able to see the project delivered first hand following her visit to a day care centre in the Geraldton.
"After observing the commitment from Educators and Directors in the Mid West and hearing the positive comments from the WAIA team and ECEC services, it is evident that this will make a big difference to children with autism and their families who seek support from these services," Debbie said.
Commuicares' Inclusion Support (IS) team has worked very closely with the Autism Association to make the project impactful thus far.
Throughout the process, the team have been fortunate to receive free training and consultation sessions, which has enabled them to acquire and apply practical strategies that continues to support the inclusion of children with autism.
This unified approach has already started to increase the capacity of ECEC services across the state, and is likely to boost ongoing service delivery.
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