Marie-Josée started working for CISS in March 1992. She was the second employee to join our program and she is still with us today. Marie-Josée has a French designated position and is a well-known resource consultant in the francophone community as well as the francophone intake coordinator. She is often the first contact with our families in order to determine the needs and eligibility of the children. To learn more about her, I invite you to read her answers to our questions below.
Why did you choose a career with CISS? And what makes CISS an employer of choice?
My journey began as a teenager when I interacted with a child with special needs in my community. I decided to go to Algonquin College (training to work with individuals with special needs) to further my knowledge. I have always had a passion for working with young children. I worked for the City of Ottawa for a few years as a resource educator while pursuing my studies in early childhood education which allowed me to develop my creativity. Then, when Andrew Fleck Child Care Services was given the mandate to offer services to children with special needs, it was only natural to continue my career with them at CISS.
Working at CISS allows me to thrive, to learn new skills, to share my expertise, to listen to programs and families, to respond to their needs, and most of all to work within a team that has the same vision. It is also an employer of choice because of our managers’ ability to listen to our opinions and always be so appreciative of our work.
At the time, what were the main responsibilities of your role?
Initially, my role was to conduct visits in a few programs for children with special needs.
In the beginning, how did you view inclusion?
Back in the 1980’s, I was convinced that only individuals with specialized training were able to ensure the inclusion of children with special needs. My vision has changed a lot over the years. A child is a child first regardless of their needs. In the community, we all have a role to play and much to learn while respecting our values.
Can you share a defining moment in your career?
It’s impossible for me to choose just one. Over the years, each family, each child, each program, has been a defining moment of sharing and reflection. Each one of the programs’ small successes deserve to be highlighted and celebrated.
In terms of inclusion, do you notice a shift since the early stages of your career? What are the biggest changes you’ve seen over time?
There have been many changes in regards to inclusion due to the change in philosophy, attitudes, values, beliefs and so on. The educators are the first external contacts to have an impact on the development of the children and the first ones, in many cases, to support the families in the positive development of their children.
What do you wish for the program in the short and long term?
It is my hope that CISS continues to provide excellent services over the years; that the program continues to be responsive to the needs of families and supportive of educators. I also hope that CISS continues to innovate without limits and establish meaningful partnerships with the community for many years to come.