Congratulations to CISS as you mark your 30th Anniversary! From the original vision for an inclusive model of supported child care in our community, the innovative foundation that was developed has always been about opportunities for all children and their families to belong.
It was critical that the new inclusion model that was envisioned, provide support in both official languages. French Language Designation was key to ensure that all Francophone parents/guardians as well as the early learning and child care community were able to relate and access support in French that was also culturally sensitive and supportive. I believe this reality and core belief and practice has been celebrated in our Francophone community.
The opportunity to provide the leadership and development of an inclusive system of support, enabled systems level thinking as well as the evolution of successful ongoing collaborative partnerships with the early years sector and all community partners. We all had a lot of learning and listening to do to ensure our service delivery was developed to meet the evolving and changing needs of parents/guardians who had children with special needs as well as the expressed needs of the educators and providers that were building inclusive settings for all children.
I hold a deep sense of pride as I look back at the incredible celebratory conferences that were offered throughout the years to provide a series of dynamic keynote speakers and workshop leaders to inspire and challenge individuals to latch on to the importance of the work they do with young children, the difference they make every day and the positive impact inclusion has for everyone.
Training was another underpinning that was key to the success of CISS. Whether it was by developing their own resources or partnering with community partners, dynamic workshops were developed to address a broad range of topics which supported the transfer of knowledge while building both confidence and competence. The manual, “Intervene Before Reacting”, a positive integrated approach to behaviours in the child care environment, created yet another opportunity which evolved to provide an effective train the trainer approach for whole child care teams as they received their training as well as necessary support to implement changes to their environment to provide positive outcomes for everyone.
Our Community Colleges were also key to building for success as they developed inclusive programming throughout their curriculum and several of the CISS team were assigned to share their knowledge by instructing in several key courses supporting Early Childhood Educators in developing skills and knowledge to successfully include all children.
Taking the time as a team to dare to dream with each of our Strategic Planning processes following an effective evaluation process, enabled CISS to reflect and work together to effect changes for all the right reasons. Communication was key with any changes and demonstrated our ability to be proactive as well as be responsive to changing needs. A key lesson for me was that Pilots are good coupled with effective evaluations to also assist with our ongoing delivery of service.
It was such a privilege to represent CISS in all the various advocacy opportunities as systems continued to change which included both the Municipal and the Provincial level. Our advocacy efforts ensured that inclusion for all children was a part of every table discussion that we were a part of. Our outreach went beyond the City of Ottawa boundaries as we shared our successful and dynamic model throughout the province. The presence of CISS created the ripple effect for inclusion in many communities as well as a variety of system planning tables.
The individual growth that I saw in our team gave me a great sense of pride. I knew each team member, their strengths as well as areas they could develop to broaden their skills. Our internal mentorship opportunities were second to none, including student placements, community and internal committee work and training. I was always looking for opportunities for people to continue to grow. Every member of the team were dynamic difference makers on a daily and ongoing basis.
I hold all my memories close to my heart. As individuals and as a team we all worked with integrity, taking pride in what we did, helping to identify gaps in service as well as taking time to celebrate each step that helped us move forward.
Just like our motto from our first strategic plan with a Turtle being our reference: “One step at a time, together we will succeed!”
Looking forward to see what the next 30 years will look like!
Retired CISS Manager (1991-2017)