Chapter 5 Pre-school Training. Policy Objective

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1 Chapter 5 Pre-school Training Policy Objective 5.1 On the delivery of pre-school services, it is the Government s policy to provide children, from birth to six years old, with disabilities or at risk of becoming disabled with early intervention to enhance their physical, psychological and social developments, thereby improving their opportunities for participating in ordinary schools and daily life activities and helping their families meet their special needs. Existing Services 5.2 At present, the Government provides a wide range of pre-school services for children in need, including: Early Education and Training Centre (EETC) provides services for children with disabilities from birth to two years old as well as those aged between two and six who need EETC service or those who are on waiting list for other pre-school services. The objective of these services is to maximise the developmental functioning of children with disabilities by enabling their parents, through support and assistance, to accept, understand, care for and train their children with disabilities; Special Child Care Centre (SCCC) provides services for children with moderate and severe disabilities aged between two and six. The objective of these services is to develop these children s fundamental developmental skills and intellectual ability, as well as the perceptual-motor, cognitive, communication, social and self-care skills to facilitate their smooth transition from pre-school education to primary education. Residential facilities are also available in some SCCCs to cater for the needs of children with disabilities who 30

2 are homeless, abandoned or dwelling in abject living conditions or family environment; Integrated Programme in Kindergarten-cum-Child Care Centre (IP in KG-cum-CCC) provides training and care to children aged between two and six with mild disabilities with a view to facilitating their full integration into normal pre-school setting as far as possible so that they will stand a better chance of future integration into the mainstream education; services specific for children with autistic features include the provision of additional special child care workers at SCCCs to provide intensive individual or group training to autistic children; occupational therapy (OT), physiotherapy (PT) and speech therapy (ST) can enhance self-reliance of children with disabilities in daily living, correct deformities and prevent deterioration in health. At present, centre-based OT, PT and ST services are available in EETCs and SCCCs. For IP in KG-cum-CCC, OT and PT services are provided by the Central Para-medical Support Service Unit of the Social Welfare Department (SWD) whilst ST service by districtbased speech therapist teams; the centre-based clinical psychologists (CP) or CPs from SWD render support to EETCs, SCCCs and IP in KG-cum-CCC. They assist in the assessment of psychological and intellectual functioning of children with disabilities, and devising training programmes to stimulate their normal emotional and behavioural development; Parents/Relatives Resource Centre (PRC) provides a wide range of support services to parents and relatives of children with disabilities; respite service for children with disabilities provides parents and carers with a safe place for temporarily placing their 31

3 children with disabilities so that they can have a short break to handle important personal business; Children Gateway Clubs provide social and recreational activities for children with disabilities to facilitate them to integrate into the community; and support and education services are made available to hearing impaired pre-schoolers, including following up on children issued with free hearing aids, parent counselling and professional consultation. Directions for Sustainable Development 5.3 For children with disabilities, the rapid development in their early years is probably more critical relative to that of other children. Pre-school training, it goes without saying, play an important part in the rehabilitation of these children by minimising the risks of the disability-related impact on their physical, social or psychological developments, and helping them develop their potentials in full. In this connection, it is recommended to: continue to implement the present policy objective of providing a full range of pre-school services for pre-schoolers with disabilities; and undertake early intervention and provide appropriate services to remove the obstacles stalling the development of preschoolers with disabilities and help their families meet their special needs. 5.4 The Working Group recommends the following long-term and short-term goals of service development along these two directions for sustainable development: 32

4 Short-term goals formulating measures to improve the delivery, waiting time and utilisation of various pre-school services, and to provide pre-schoolers with disabilities with appropriate services by making full use of resources available; and improving the matching of pre-school services and ordinary primary schooling for pre-schoolers with disabilities; Long-term goals improving the opportunities of pre-schoolers with disabilities for participating in ordinary schools and daily life activities; and promoting activities aimed at facilitating inclusion to raise the awareness and acceptance of the public on the needs of children with disabilities and their parents. Specific Measures Proposed 5.5 Specific measures proposed for the further development of preschool services are as follows: deploying resources to increase service places, especially in districts with soaring demand; adopting a more flexible mixed-mode operation to cater for the service demands in various districts; strengthening the collaboration between allied health professionals and primary schools, and advising parents to give their consent to send the assessment reports made on their children prior to their leaving of pre-school services to the primary schools concerned to facilitate appropriate follow-up actions by the school operators; 33

5 ensuring service quality by providing continuous on-the-job training for staff engaged in services for pre-schoolers with disabilities; continuing to provide parents with parent education activities and support; and mounting on-going public education campaigns to facilitate children with disabilities to integrate into schools and social life. 34

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