The APD Day Care Centre for Children with Disabilities is our Early Childhood Development Centre which is registered with the Department of Social Development.
The centre was established in 2006 and has grown into a well-run, professionally managed facility which has capacity to cater for 32 children. We currently have 30 profoundly disabled children between the ages of 1-6 enrolled at the centre.
The nine full-time staff employed at the centre are responsible for facilitating the children’s specially designed school-entry programme and the provision of two healthy, balanced meals.
The children are collected from their homes and transported to and from the centre daily in one of our specially adapted buses (fitted with a wheelchair hoist).
The centre targets all children with physical disabilities irrespective of gender, race or religious convictions. All our children come from impoverished and vulnerable communities in Motherwell township in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
- Children with disabilities do not receive equal educational opportunities in South Africa.
- A special needs survey conducted in 2012, reported that more than 60% of children with disabilities are not registered to receive an education in South Africa.
- We strongly believe that this is largely due to the lack of early childhood development centres specifically catering for children with disabilities.
- In Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and Dispatch) the problem is exacerbated by a number of barriers which are listed below.
WHAT ARE THE BARRIERS PREVENTING CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES FROM ACCESSING EQUAL EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES IN NELSON MANDELA BAY?
- There are very few ECD centres specifically catering for children with disabilities in Nelson Mandela Bay
- Poor socio-economic living conditions: Children with disabilities place an additional financial strain on household incomes. Sadly, in many cases, children’s disabilities grants are often abused resulting in the children not receiving the full benefit of their grants.
- There is a lack of early identification systems to correctly identify and diagnose disabilities. This results in the future potential of children with disabilities been compromised.
- A lack of a co-ordinated, collaborative approach to ECD centres for children with disabilities results in difficulty in accessing funding and resources as ECD centres tend to operate in isolation.
- The mainstream schooling system is largely inaccessible to children with disabilities.
- LSEN or special needs schools are under resourced.
- Public transport services in Nelson Mandela are completely inaccessible to children with disabilities.
The APD Day Care Centre for Children with Disabilities confronts the challenge of unequal access to educational opportunities in the following ways:
- We are acutely aware of the poor socio-economic living conditions of the Motherwell community we serve. We therefore only charge a nominal fee to attend the centre which helps to cover transportation costs to and from the centre, daily meals, and educational programmes.
- We partner with professionals to identify and correctly diagnose disabilities. Early identification of a child’s abilities, language levels, and developmental needs is key to their future growth and well-being.
- We involve parents in their children’s health and educational programmes as parental involvement is in most cases the defining factor in successful rehabilitation and transition to the formal schooling system.
- Given our lack of resources, we make use of the Department of Health’s services. One example is monthly visits by the department’s occupational therapists.
- We provide transport in one of our specially adapted buses. The children are collected from their homes and transported to and from the centre daily. Trained staff accompany the children on the bus to ensure their safety and well-being.
SOME OF THE WORK WE DO:
WHY SUPPORT THE APD DAY CARE CENTRE FOR CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES?
This centre provides a unique and vital service to the disabled community in Nelson Mandela Bay. Due to the previously mentioned barriers, there are very few alternatives for parents to access ECD services specifically for children with disabilities.
We have seen an increasing number of children with disabilities, who have been cared for and educated in this centre, entering special schools when they reach school-going age. This is proof that the centre is playing an increasingly important role in eliminating barriers preventing equal access to education for children with disabilities.
- To prepare children with disabilities for entry into special needs schools.
- Increase the centre’s throughput of children entering special needs schools.
- Upgrading and improving our school-entry educational programme.
- Ongoing training for our centre staff to increase their skills capacity.
- Financial self-sustainability for the centre.
- Roll-out of more centres in impoverished and vulnerable communities in Nelson Mandela Bay.
The annual deficit for this centre for the 2013-2014 financial year was R304 435.00.
Our long-term goal for the centre is financial self-sustainability. We receive very little funding from government. We currently cover the centre’s monthly shortfall with various fundraising initiatives.
If you would like to support the centre or have any queries please feel free to contact Bernadine Hendricks (APD Day Care Centre Manager)
Tel: (041) 461 1370