How Does Learning Happen? The Four Pillars of the Ottawa Story

25-yearsTwenty five years ago, our community had a vision that saw each child as a child first. They wanted a supportive and inclusive system that was flexible as well as responsive to the changing needs of families, children and teaching teams. The hope was to reduce or eliminate social isolation which was experienced by so many families with a child with special needs. By making this happen one child and one child care program at a time, supportive relationships were formed so that each child would reach their optimum development and experience the true meaning of belonging.

By taking on new opportunities to learn and by accessing training and resources, one’s resiliency and capacity expands to truly live the belief and value that all children belong. That coupled with genuine reflection allows for authentic support of the needs and skills of the children and families. This positive approach sets the stage to achieve and embrace a true sense of well-being.

We envisioned a system of engagement where parents/guardians would be active participants in problem solving and solution finding regarding their needs and their child’s needs. This was achieved in partnership with appropriate and supportive community services surrounding the child care program.  We have been successful in creating a system that is not as focused on disabilities but rather one focused on possibilities. In developing services, we have a community that provides concrete mechanisms and inclusion opportunities which reduce isolation and deliver the necessary supports for families and children. We also see Early Childhood Educators and Providers that are well valued for the developmentally appropriate programming and inclusive proactive practices that they offer for all children through their ongoing reflections.

Through all of these connections, communication has been paramount in achieving success.  Many positive outcomes for children and families have become a reality. This has been accomplished by listening to where people are at and what they need, by sharing knowledge and working within collaborative partnerships and by providing the necessary resources. As the Early Childhood Educators and Providers demonstrate their understanding of how to support expression, they adapt and learn other ways to help a child make choices, indicate what they want and enter play successfully.

In 2016, CISS and the child care community will mark twenty five years of our ongoing collaborative partnership for inclusion. If you have a reflection/story that could be shared in future newsletters, please forward it to

Moira D’Aoust, Manager
Children’s Integration Support Services