Keys to Inclusion at Child Care

Two families, attending two child care centres, each with unique needs. There’s nothing unusual about different families having their own story and their own dynamics, yet it can still be the case that the needs of families who differ from the majority can be less well addressed than those of others. The stories of these two families highlight how similarities vastly outnumber differences, and how one thoughtful approach supported them to receive the right care.

Louise and her partner Jenna have two kids between them. Ten years ago, they enrolled their children at their local child care centre, at QUT Carseldine, in Brisbane. As far as Louise knows, they were the first lesbian parents to be part of the child care community there.

“The staff at the centre were great,” she says.

“They were engaged and interested. It was clear from the start that they had an existing high standard of care and attention that we very much appreciated, and as part of their usual attentive approach, they got to know about our family.

“They were kind and curious, with no fuss. If they didn’t know something they simply asked, such as who was the birth mum and how we wanted the centre to handle Fathers’ Day.

“And then on Mothers’ Day, the kids made two of everything.

Louise explains that having two mums was a novelty for some kids, and so the centre helped her kids answer questions in a simple, practical way.

“The centre staff would notice when kids asked questions about having two mums, and they would assist my kids with the language to explain to the kids who didn’t understand – or who didn’t believe that they had two mums!

“The centre’s all-round attentive approach was not only shown during questions about having two mums, but at other times, such as responding to my eldest’s restrictive eating requirements.

“I would say that what made the difference for us was that the centre staff was genuine and interested, and they didn’t make assumptions. It was effortless, it seemed.”

Another example of a family who benefited from an inclusive child care centre is Emma’s family. Emma tells of her appreciation of her centre as a single parent.

“My situation is that my children don’t actually have any interaction with their father at all,” she said.

“For a four year old that can be tricky to explain and the difficulty arises each year at Fathers’ Day. This last Fathers’ Day [2015], Abby was included in a Fathers’ Day craft activity but got to make her gift for her Grandad, my father, instead.

“It was lovely that she was able to make something special for someone in her family and be included in the activities with the other kids and she was very proud to have something special to present to her Grandad.

“For me, the centre’s got the right approach, understanding the diversity of family make-ups these days and having simple, inclusive strategies for the children.”

The two centres discussed here were more than just sensitive to the needs of diverse families, but had overall attentive approach for all their families. This is the difference between being reactive to diverse needs when they arise, and instead understanding that the only way is to genuinely recognise that every family is different and to have that as a standard approach.

What does inclusion mean to you at your centre?

What might inclusion look like to a parent at your centre? Or, a child?

Check our ‘Partner Up & Wise Up’ for our latest inclusion offerings here.