Journey Through Inclusion

Navigating a New Country and a Career in Home Child Care

My journey was just beginning, as I got settled in Ottawa, found a school for my eldest and a childcare for my two young ones. I was very fortunate to find a childcare renowned for its services (Andrew Fleck Children’s Services) staffed with highly competent, professional and caring employees.

I received support from the Vanier Community Service Centre (VCSC) that provided me with all the services I needed to make a fresh start: settlement counselling, legal counsel, employment assistance, temporary assistance with food and diapers and fun activities for my kids.

As I needed a more stable job, I continued my job search, leaning on the support of the VCSC, once again. My counsellor encouraged me to enroll in a 14-week paid training at Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre to become an Early Childhood Education Assistant.

After completing the training, I was offered a small employment contract from a childcare center in my neighborhood. One day, at a job fair, I met Laura Roux, consultant for the childcare agency La Maisonnée. The agency was offering training to individuals interested in becoming home child care providers. Soon after, by the end of June 2014, I was offering home child care services and meeting the needs of my community while caring for my own children.

My job as a home child care provider allowed me to develop the skills and abilities to better support the parents by meeting the children’s needs. The children were receptive and fully participated in the activities I planned, taking in consideration each of their individual needs. From the outset, I was working with children with special needs. It turned out to be a positive challenge that led me to enroll in the three year child development practitioner program at La Cité collégiale.

I had the wonderful opportunity to work with health professionals from CHEO, the Children’s Treatment Centre and Marie-Josée Landry from Children’s Inclusion Support Services program, to whom I owe this beautiful outlook on positive inclusion and belonging in my role as an educator caring for children with special needs.

The next step was adapting my home child care environment by including visuals, sign language and PECS communication boards to meet the individual needs of the children in my care.

This collaborative approach with the families and early childhood education professionals allowed me to further develop my skillset. The most rewarding part of it all was my relationship with the children and the positive impact I had on the lives of those precious little ones in my care that captured my full attention which was a true privilege.

After many years working as a home child care provider, I tried, with a heavy heart, to find a job outside my home. I was committed to giving back to my community what I had been given: high quality work executed in a professional and honest manner.

I am always engaging in ongoing professional development. I have so many things to accomplish and learn. For example, I have enrolled in an online course on Autism and Behavioural Science that started in September 2019. This particular interest of mine for professional development will equip me with the tools I need to work with children with special needs. This stems from the love I have always felt for the children in my care that I have seen thrive.

Challenges are learning opportunities and life is a school from which we never graduate, as we continue to learn every day.

Yaye Rama Koneh, RECE