Government stepping in over younger kids in need

| 28/05/2015 | 11 Comments
Cayman News Service

Tara Rivers, Minister of Education, Employment and Gender Affairs

(CNS): The intervention by education officials into the lives of children with special education needs (SEN) will be happening with pre-compulsory school age kids, the minister has said. Speaking about the recent developments in early childhood education in Cayman, Tara Rivers said the education ministry was seeking to provide “adapted environments and specialist provision” as early as possible. Stating that the earlier the intervention the better, Rivers said kindergartens and daycare centers were now tasked with stepping in with the youngest learners. 

Pointing to the often complex issues and needs that can relate to healthcare and family support, as well as education, for the preschools, with SEN and the need to access multiple government service providers, she said that government was taking an holistic approach to the earliest of intervention proposal.

“Cabinet has just recently issued a mandate to the Ministries of Education, Health, Community Affairs and Planning to come together to develop a multi-agency/multi-ministry approach to address the issues related to the Early Intervention Programme service delivery model, which services the needs of our youngest (pre-compulsory aged) special needs students,” Rivers told the Legislative Assembly Wednesday.

“The staff of the various ministries and departments will now need to look at and develop an effective inter-ministerial/inter-departmental model of early intervention service delivery with the aim to begin implementing some aspects of the new model, to the extent possible, as early as September 2015, with further implementation aimed for September 2016.”

Rivers said government was committed to identifying the issues facing some of Cayman’s youngest learners and spoke about the need for “a culture shift in the way some ministries and departments operate,” but noted that it was important to break down the silos.

“The civil service will have an opportunity to rise to the challenge, and the government is looking forward to receiving the holistic proposal from the relevant ministries in this regard,” she said as she explained that it would require a new approach to budgets and outputs.

With the anticipated implementation of a disabilities policy, government is required to provide equal access to educational and social opportunities for children with special needs and disabilities as they grow.

“Since August 2014, the ECCE Unit has benefitted from a secondment of an Early Childhood Officer with specific focus and training in special education needs,” Rivers said, adding that targeted training for Early Childhood Care and Education practitioners to raise awareness of the challenges children with special education needs and disabilities face and how they can support them to be more successful.

The training series included special sessions for the owners and principals/lead teachers in early childhood centres, which helped them identify challenges, guidance on how to discuss their concerns with parents, and procedures that should take place within the early childhood centre if a child is identified to need extra support.

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Category: Education, Local News

Comments (11)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Might want to start with getting rid of a certain teacher that don’t know how to treat special needs children like human beings.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The opening statement to this release is horrific…”The intervention by education officials into the lives of children with special education needs”. Sorry, do you mean ‘the provision of support, guidance and development solutions for children with special needs and their families will now be something the government seeks to provide’?

    The fact is, this has been severely lacking here, with the onus on parents finding solutions through private organisations, IF they can afford it. So whilst the premise behind this move seems an excellent one, the emphasis should be on working with parents, families, teachers and specialist support workers to find solutions for children with special needs. Intervention implies families (and/or schools) have not wanted support and therefore government officials must ‘intervene’- when actually this is far from the case.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well the department doesn’t want teachers that have a vested Interest and therefore voice ideas that may benefit our children. They only want teachers who just do what they are told , no questions asked.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Finally Tara is doing what we had hoped she would do after securing the popular vote in WB – better late than never. Learning and Attention Disability evaluations should be supervised by qualified evaluators (as this seems to be) and be available to students at all study levels. For years Cayman’s schools have been passing kids that haven’t met international education standards. There are many that can benefit from extra time that special needs student-teacher mentorship can provide.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Good news. Could we please also continue efforts to get our kids a world class education because while what we are doing now may be good on a Caribbean stage, it is embarrassing given the international competition are people face from outside this region.

    • Brackerjack says:

      That is asking a great deal of a Ministry that ignores qualified Caymanian teachers in favour of illiterate ones from the wider Caribbean. If you knew what goes on in the Education Department you would be very scared for the future.

      • Anonymous says:

        So enlighten us instead of making unsubstantiated accusations.

      • Anonymous says:

        The best option would be to allow expat children into the public system which would engage their middle class parents. Engaged middle class parents is the most efficient means of driving education standards.

        • Anonymous says:

          Expat children are in the public system, in their hundreds if not thousands. They are the children of civil servants and anyone granted PR or status, or the existing children of an expatriate who marries a civil servant, a Caymanian, or a PR holder who cannot (or chooses not to) afford private school. Often when someone from the region is granted PR or Status their children who have often never lived here before (and are not Caymanian themselves) are permitted in and go straight into Government Schools The concept that only Caymanians are in Government schools is absolutely false.

    • Anonymous says:

      A world class education takes time. I hate to defend the Ministry but they are genuinely trying. I am more hopeful now than I have been in all my teaching career in Cayman, well at least as far as Maths Education is concerned.

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