THE COMPASS

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Early Education

Programming for children with special needs will typically start before elementary school. A few programs in the Edmonton area that are often initiated at an early age include:

Program Unit Funding (PUF)

Alberta Education provides Program Unit Funding (PUF) to children with severe developmental disabilities to support early childhood programs and kindergarten transitioning. Discuss with your early intervention worker about PUF programs available in your community. A few of these programs are:

  • Getting Ready for Inclusion Today (GRIT):
    In the GRIT program, each child will have a developmental specialist work with them in their home or community. The multidisciplinary team and family are actively involved to help the child reach their full potential.
  • Edmonton Catholic Schools:
    ECS has a variety of programs such as 100 Voices and Pre-school Outreach that are available at locations all over Edmonton. For more information, visit ecsd.net/schools/gelc/Pages/Default.aspx or speak to an early learning consultant at (780) 638-6810.
  • Robin Hood Association:
    Robin Hood Association provides a variety of services for the families of children with special needs. It has an early intervention program that is available for children up to three and a half years old to assist parents with accessing resources in their community.

The association also has an early childhood program for parents of children six years and younger that offers a wide variety of services such as education, support, child development information and play groups. Learn more at robinhoodassoc.com.

  • Elves Special Needs Society:
    This programming is offered to children with severe delays. Visit elves-society.com or call (780) 454-5310 for more information.
  • Transitions:
    Transitions is a not-for-profit that provides support services to the families of people with developmental delays and disabilities in St. Albert, Sturgeon County and northwest Edmonton. It offers services from early intervention to community living for people over 18 years old. Visit transitions-ab.org or call (780) 458-7371.

My Three-Year-Old Boss

by Jen Litzenberger
“As a developmental specialist, I spend my days with amazing children either doing home programming, providing support at playschool or out in the community. Along with my team and the family, we set goals for the children, and my job is to incorporate learning into their play experiences. That said, basically, I am the student…and a three-year-old is my teacher! Each day my “teacher” gives me lessons on motivation, appreciation and dedication. Those are qualities I think we all need to learn about. We adults lose our ability to get back to the basics; kids learn most of what they know through play. What a fantastic way to learn.
Imagine going to work every day and building a castle of blocks, playing with a train set or going for a walk to the park. That’s a child’s occupation, and I am so thankful I get to be a part of that. There are many challenges, but the rewards are endless. I get the chance to celebrate all victories big and small, whether it is a new word spoken, one more step or even a few seconds of eye contact. Kids are amazing little people that have the ability to accept that every one of us is unique. Through their curious nature, they can learn about all of our differences. I am honoured to have been welcomed into the homes of these families and that they have allowed me the opportunity to spend time with their wonderful children.”

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