Part seven of the IncludED@OSHC learning journey
Plenty of resources are available to help you include children with complex disabilities at your service. It's important you know how to access them.
The National Quality Framework for education and care explains the resourcing standards your service should meet:
Quality Area 3 – Physical environment: ensuring the OSHC space is safe and accessible for children with complex disabilities.
Quality Area 4 – Staffing arrangements: implementing the right staffing mix at the OSHC service to ensure there is sufficient capacity and capabilities to provide care and meet the needs of children with complex disabilities.
Quality Area 6 – Collaborative partnerships with families and communities: seeking opportunities to work with and benefit from community groups, schools, or care providers to enhance the support provided to children with complex disabilities.
Quality Area 7 – Governance and leadership: ensuring that leaders are aware of and accessing the resources available to the OSHC service to include children with complex disability.
Below, learn how to achieve and exceed the National Quality Standard.
How to get support and funds
Government rebates and parent co-contributions will help pay for your service, but other types of support and funding are also available.
A main source of support for your service is the
Inclusion Support Program, which provides direct support through to
Inclusion Support Agencies in your state and territory.
The agencies have a network of inclusion professionals who work with OSHC services to provide practical and tailored advice on how to include children with complex disabilities.
The Inclusion Support Program also provides funding for eligible OSHC services through the
Inclusion Development Fund. To be eligible for the fund, you will need to have a strategic inclusion plan for supporting children with complex disability.
The agencies can help you develop your plan and apply for the fund. You will need to be aware of these resources and programs and initiate funding applications yourself.
Your service also may be eligible for other community resources, such as community grants. Consider what resources and funds you can apply for.
How to get suitable equipment
You may need to provide specialised equipment to some children – to help them take part in an activity, for example, or for medical or personal care.
If you don't have the equipment, or can't borrow it from the child's school, ask for help from your Inclusion Support Agency. It might be able to lend you equipment from the Specialist Equipment Library under the
Inclusion Support Program
If your service is school-based, work with the school to access any other existing resources, such as program materials.
Your service and the school may also be able to team up to apply for funds, such as grants for new equipment or facility upgrades.
How to create inclusive spaces
Your space is an important resource, and it needs to be accessible and safe for all children.
Plan and design the space to account for safety hazards, sensory stimuli, wheelchair accessibility, bathroom facilities, playground equipment and modes of transport.
If there are access difficulties, you may need to make structural changes. If your service operates from a school multi-purpose room, the changes may need to be temporary or negotiated with the school.
How to staff your service to be inclusive
Your staff are a vital resource. Ideally, you don't want a high staff turnover – that will make it challenging to offer the appropriate mix of staff skills to support children with complex disabilities. Also, children like to have a sense of consistency and familiarity with staff. Optimal staff ratios for each service depend on the number of enrolled children with complex disabilities, their support needs, and the skills and experience of the OSHC staff and leaders.
Ways to staff your service to be inclusive:
- in any given session, provide enough staff with the right skills and qualifications to meet the support needs of any child with complex disabilities
- recruit or train staff so you get that staffing mix right
- help staff access professional learning, training or communities of practice (where staff come together to share ideas and challenges) so they can build their skills and confidence in working with the children
- when recruiting and inducting new staff members, discuss how your service includes children with complex disabilities
- consider whether you need to provide more staff for sessions attended by children with complex disabilities. Not every child with a complex disability will necessarily need a dedicated staff member. How many staff you put on will depend on the number of children, their specific support needs and the skills and experience of the staff
- reduce staff turnover (which is common in the OSHC sector), and recruit or train staff members who specifically want to work with children with disabilities. Hold performance and goal setting meetings with them to understand their professional goals and build their objectives into the role
- encourage staff to study the information in IncludED@OSHC and complete the learning modules.