Creating positive OSHC experiences
In today’s inclusive society, the focus is increasingly shifting towards embracing diversity and providing equal opportunities for everyone, including children with disabilities.
OSHC creates positive difference in children’s lives
Eight per cent of Australian children live with disabilities. Across the country, governments, communities, and organisations are making strides toward creating a more inclusive environment for these young people.
One significant aspect of this inclusion is ensuring that Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) programs cater to the unique needs of children with disabilities. Lifely, a provider of specialised OSHC programs for children and teens attending specialist schools in Victoria, is committed to making a positive difference in the lives of these children.
In this blog, we will explore practical advice and strategies for OSHC workers to create a welcoming and supportive environment for children with disabilities.
Challenges faced by children with disabilities
Children with disabilities meet various challenges in their lives, and it is essential to address these issues to make their OSHC experience positive and inclusive. Some of the common challenges faced by children include:
- Isolation: Children with disabilities may experience social isolation due to barriers that limit their participation in community activities.
- Bullying: Unfortunately, bullying can be a significant issue for children with disabilities, making it crucial for OSHC programs to create a safe and supportive environment where such behaviour is not tolerated.
- Academic struggles: Some children with disabilities may require more support with their academic endeavours, including homework and learning activities.
Creating a positive OSHC experience
Several strategies and approaches can be employed to make OSHC a positive and inclusive experience for children with disabilities:
- Promoting inclusion: OSHC programs should actively promote inclusion by ensuring that children with disabilities are treated with respect and encouraged to take part in all activities. Creating a welcoming atmosphere where everyone feels valued is critical.
- Preventing bullying: OSHC staff must be vigilant about preventing and addressing bullying. Implementing anti-bullying policies and fostering a culture of kindness and acceptance can go a long way in preventing such incidents.
- Accessibility: Facilities and activities within OSHC should be designed to be accessible to all children, including those with physical disabilities. This may involve adjusting the physical environment or supplying assistive devices when needed.
- Academic support: OSHC workers can offer academic support to children with disabilities by supplying a quiet and conducive space for homework and helping when needed. Collaborating with schools to understand specific academic needs can be beneficial.
- Managing emotional and behavioural issues: Some children with disabilities may face emotional and behavioural challenges. OSHC workers should receive training in managing such situations effectively, creating a calm and supportive environment.
- Healthcare needs: For children with medical needs, OSHC staff should be trained to administer necessary medications, check health conditions, and respond to emergencies if they arise.
- Communication: Effective communication between OSHC workers, families, and schools is essential. Sharing information, concerns, and successes ensures that everyone is on the same page and working together to support the child.
Collaboration and flexibility
Collaboration between OSHC staff, parents, schools, and specialists is fundamental to creating a positive experience for children with disabilities. Flexibility is also essential, as each child’s needs are unique. By working together, adapting to individual requirements, and fostering a supportive environment, OSHC can make a significant difference in the lives of children with disabilities.
Addressing the risk of violence
It’s alarming to note that children with disabilities face a significantly higher risk of experiencing violence compared to their non-disabled peers. This risk can stem from various factors, including how care is provided, the impact of their impairment, and the limited availability of support programs for children and their families.
To address this critical issue, OSHC programs and workers should:
- Provide protective behaviours education: Educating children with disabilities about protective behaviours is crucial to empower them to recognise and respond to potentially harmful situations.
- Listen to children’s voices: Actively listen to and involve children with disabilities in decisions and discussions related to their care and safety. Encouraging them to communicate their feelings and concerns is essential.
- Community of practice approach: Embrace a community of practice approach, where OSHC workers, schools, parents, and specialists collaborate to share knowledge, experiences, and strategies for safeguarding children with disabilities.
- Policies and procedures: Robust child safety policies and procedures are critical to guide OSHC staff about how to engage with children and how to respond to instances of neglect, abuse, violence and other concerns to protect the safety of the vulnerable children they work with.
OSHC can be transformative
OSHC has the potential to be a positive and transformative experience for children with disabilities. By creating inclusive environments, preventing bullying, ensuring accessibility, offering academic support, managing emotional challenges, and fostering collaboration, OSHC workers can make a significant impact on these children’s lives. Additionally, addressing the risk of violence through education and active involvement is essential to safeguard their wellbeing.
With commitment, understanding, and dedication, OSHC can truly become a place where children with disabilities thrive, grow, and feel included in the broader community.
Join our OSHC team
If you’re passionate about working with children, fostering their growth, and making a positive impact, you’re in the right place. Apply for one of a many OSHC roles and join Lifely family, where every day is an opportunity to create memorable experiences for our young learners!