Review Article

Priorities for access to early childhood development services for children with disabilities in South Africa

Amani Karisa, Chantal Samuels, Brian Watermeyer, Judith McKenzie, Richard Vergunst
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 12, No 1 | a1119 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v12i1.1119 | © 2022 Amani Karisa, Chantal Samuels, Brian Watermeyer, Judith McKenzie, Richard Vergunst | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 September 2021 | Published: 10 March 2022

About the author(s)

Amani Karisa, Including Disability in Education in Africa (IDEA) Research Unit, Department of Health and Rehabilitation Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Chantal Samuels, Including Disability in Education in Africa (IDEA) Research Unit, Department of Health and Rehabilitation Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Brian Watermeyer, Including Disability in Education in Africa (IDEA) Research Unit, Department of Health and Rehabilitation Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Judith McKenzie, Including Disability in Education in Africa (IDEA) Research Unit, Department of Health and Rehabilitation Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Richard Vergunst, Including Disability in Education in Africa (IDEA) Research Unit, Department of Health and Rehabilitation Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: South Africa has migrated the responsibility for early childhood development (ECD) centres from the Department of Social Services to the Department of Basic Education. This functional shift has ushered in consultations and discussions on how best to implement ECD, including opportunities the change may bring.

Aim: By anchoring the understanding of ECD services in nurturing care, this study aimed to elucidate the provision of appropriate, inclusive services in early childhood development, including early childhood intervention, for children with disabilities in South Africa against the backdrop of the migration of services from one government ministry to another.

Methods: This is an analytical article based on South African literature on ECD services, including interventions, with particular attention to children with disabilities, basing our understanding of these services in nurturing care.

Results: We elucidate how the ideals of the Nurturing Care Framework can be achieved in the context of children with disabilities in South Africa using five themes: the need to localise services, developing tools and strategies for screening and early intervention, enhancing the efficacy of caregivers, supporting and training staff and collaborations.

Conclusion: It is necessary to empower caregivers and professionals to address early childhood intervention and ECD needs of children with disabilities. Early childhood development centres are an important context for nurturing care, providing opportunities to promote and sustain health amongst a large number of children. Considering the function shift of ECD services in South Africa, these centres are well positioned to further nurturing care to children with disabilities through the provision of supportive environments that promote health and well-being.


Keywords

children with disabilities; early childhood development; early childhood intervention; impairments; nurturing care; South Africa

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