Early Childhood Intervention: Module One – Typical and Atypical Development


Charter of The Rights of the Child, Inclusion Laws, and Early Childhood Laws

Parents and professionals involved with children with special needs will find it both important and useful to know about children’s rights and learn about the laws in place to protect each child.

As you read this page, you are invited to click on the links that explain information on laws, agencies and organizations.

The Rights of the Child vs. the Rights of the Parents?

While everyone has basic human rights, there can sometimes be conflicts between the rights of a child and the rights of his or her parents. Every child deserves services that meet his or her unique needs, but not all services offered agree with the values and beliefs held by parents and families. Other times, services may come too late for families.

It’s important to recognize that while people still experience discrimination in Canada, there are many laws that protect human rights, and that these laws apply to children as well as adults.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

In 1982, Canada developed the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This federal law states that all people in Canada, including children, have certain rights. One of these rights is that of equality, stated in Section 15 (1):

“Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection of the law, without discrimination and in particular, without discrimination based on… mental and physical disability”

Human rights are also protected by the Canadian Bill of Rights and the Canadian Human Rights Act. In addition, each province also has human rights legislation .

United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child

In 1991, Canada ratified the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child. This means that the Federal government agrees in principle with the international commitment to protecting children’s rights. This convention guarantees rights for all children, including social, economic, cultural, and civil and political rights.

Article 23 is specific to children with disabilities. It states that it’s important that children with disabilities are included and recognizes that special efforts are needed for children with disabilities to realize their rights.

Provincial Ministries

The bills and acts mentioned earlier contain laws set out for each province in Canada. Each province has its own service delivery systems, set out by provincial laws and guidelines.

In British Columbia, for example, services for children with special needs (see full Glossary) and their families are provided mainly by three Ministries:

  • the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD);
  • the BC Ministry of Health; and,
  • the BC Ministry of Education.

The Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) has a designated department called “Children and Youth with Special Needs” (CYSN). MCFD provides services to children in five regions in the Province: Northern, Interior, Fraser, Vancouver Island and Vancouver Coastals.

The MCFD and Community Living British Columbia (CLBC) work together to offer a range of services. These services are provided through various organizations, including MCFD and CLBC offices, health authorities, contracted agencies and other programs.

The BC Ministry of Health Services is managed provincially through the Provincial Health Services Authority (PSHA). Together they look after organizations that provide health services province-wide, including the BC Children’s Hospital or the BC Early Hearing Program.

As with MCFD’s regions, there are also five health authorities (HAs), each responsible for delivery of health care services and programs; for example, the At-Home program.

For school age children, services and programs are provided by the BC Ministry of Education. In 1995, a “Special Education Policy Framework” for British Columbia was established. This guided the development of legislation and direction for special education programs and services in British Columbia.

November 22, 2010   No Comments

Frames of Reference in Special Education and Early Childhood Education

Father and sonThe “Special Education Policy Framework” also served as the foundation for the resource Special Education Services: A Manual of Policies, Procedures and Guidelines. This manual describes the policy’s foundation , outlines the roles and responsibilities of the ministry, the school boards, district and school-based staff, parents and students in the development and delivery of special education services. It also describes the process of identifying and planning for children with special needs and outlines the services that will be made available to the student as well as school and school districts.

In 2008, a plan coordinated across the three Ministries, Children and Family Development, Health and Education was developed. This is referred to as the Children and Youth with Special Needs and their Families Framework for Action.

This is a strategy to foster collaborative action among the health, education and social services sectors to help better support families.

Prior to 2008, early childhood education programs for children, typically pre-kindergarten programs, were not legally mandated by any ministry. In 2007, Bill 20, The School Amendment Act, gave authority to Boards of Education. (see full Glossary) to provide services to children under school age. The Bill defines these “Early Learning Programs” (see full Glossary) as programs for children who are under school age entry (e.g., 3-5 years old). An example of this type of program is the Strong Start Early Learning Centers that operate in local schools.

Legislation is regulated by the Child Care BC Act. Additional funding and support for children attending child care settings is available and is regulated by this act.

Child care center buildings and spaces are regulated by the Community Care and Assisted Living Act which provides guidelines to such things as the number of children per staff member, the number of hours a child can be in care, etc. All these programs and acts are monitored and maintained under the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

This complex system1 of child care and special needs programs under three Ministries and sets of laws can be a maze for parents and professionals.

It’s important to have accurate information, and to ask for assistance in order to get the appropriate services for your child and family.

1. More information on this system in this report.

November 22, 2010   No Comments