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An evaluative study of a project to integrate children with disabilities into child care services in Western Australia

Werner, Jenni (1988) An evaluative study of a project to integrate children with disabilities into child care services in Western Australia. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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This dissertation is about the implementation of the impact of the Disability Services Act on child care services and families seeking respite care for their children aged from infancy to six years. The legislation attempts to reform existing social patterns and their associated attitudes. Specifically this dissertation documents and analyses changing care methods for children with disability. It is a story of the change from the two earlier practices of isolating them within the confines of institutions or caring for them in the confines of the family home. Whereas the original institutionalising practice isolated the child, the modified practice of caring for them in the home with early intervention programmes in effect isolated the whole family and in particular the mother, thus preventing the parents as well as their children from leading a reasonably integrated normal life.

Under these circumstances, many parents lost basic rights, such as the right to work and enjoy leisure. The increasing frequency of family breakdown and necessary institutions, the cost of associated services, particularly respite care, and the loss of opportunities and human dignity, initiated the search for alternative practices. The solution espoused was further integration, particularly through existing schools and child care facilities. Implementation of that change required legislation for the modification of existing attitudes, institutions and practices. It is these processes that are the subject of this dissertation.

The dissertation examines the effectiveness of incentive programmes designed to enable the enrolment of more children with disabilities into child care services. Interviews, team teaching and an action research approach helped identify the expectations, changes and support required for the altered role for staff working with all children. A survey of 125 staff working in child care services was conducted to substantiate the case study findings. Overall, child care services are willing to integrate children with disabilities provided that there is additional qualified staff, regular in-service training and access to specialised agency support.

The dissertation concludes by identifying some trends which may influence future planning for policy development and integration procedures.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Tripp, David
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