Inclusive childcare services: Meeting the challenge for Indigenous children
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Child care for Indigenous children provides an important site for early health and wellbeing interventions, and smooths the transition to school. It is demonstrably protective for children vulnerable to abuse and neglect. Furthermore, employment in child care and/or having access to child care in order to take up other employment provides a pathway towards a productive future. Given that formal child care provides for a range of beneficial outcomes for children in significantly disadvantaged positions, how can more Indigenous children and their families be encouraged to participate in such care, especially in a mainstream setting? The following paper draws upon a broad-based consultation funded by the Australian Government and conducted throughout 2005–2006 to respond to this question. The research methods included focus groups, community consultations, and interviews with key stakeholders in the childcare sector in order to identify the key issues regarding the challenges of childcare services for Indigenous families and service providers. The literature and the research findings highlight that, for mainstream child care to be an effective option for Indigenous children, it must take a broad role by providing high-quality, inclusive and community-specific services based on family and community involvement, and culturally relevant child care and programming.
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