Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

The ‘helpless’ feeling that made Leila withdraw her daughter from childcare

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun5,2024
Leila (not her real name) and her three young children left Afghanistan for Australia in 2015.
Finding childcare was a significant challenge.
“I didn’t know how to find [early childhood education], or where to even start. I wasn’t even sure if there was a centre near my house.”
“When my daughter finally started attending [early childhood education], she cried hysterically every day. I was so worried because I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t speak enough English to ask the staff what was happening.”
Leila says the centre in Queensland, where she was living at the time, did not provide her with an interpreter.

“I felt helpless. I had to withdraw her.”

It was her daughter’s second stint at early education — she had attended a centre for three months in regional Victoria for free, but had to be withdrawn because the family couldn’t afford it when the free period ran out.
It was a big struggle to even secure the spot for three months.
“Without a licence, transportation was hard for me, and completing paperwork was impossible due to my language barrier.”
Leila said despite the difficulties, her dream was that all three children could attend early childhood education because she believed in the benefits.

“My oldest child was struggling when she started school without any therapist support, and it was so hard for her. She feels very isolated, and it was heartbreaking to see her like this.”

Children from CALD backgrounds being left behind

Children from are accessing early childhood education and care at lower rates than their peers and are also more likely than other children to miss out on critical early intervention for children with developmental concerns, a new report reveals.

Around 82 per cent of children from culturally diverse backgrounds attend, compared to 90 per cent of their peers who are not from a culturally diverse background, according to new research conducted jointly by non-profit Settlement Services International and researchers at the University of South Australia’s Education Futures.

Not being able to attend can make it harder for children to transition to school, make their time at school harder and potentially have knock-on effects later in life, the researchers say.
Children from CALD backgrounds are only half as likely to access early intervention support (speech therapy, occupational therapy, or disability support) compared to other children. 

These children now make up around 26 per cent of enrolments in the first year of school, an increase of 17 per cent in 2009.

Children from CALD backgrounds who don’t attend any kind of early childhood education or care are 1.8 times more likely to be “developmentally vulnerable”, meaning they are seriously struggling with social, emotional, physical, cognitive and language development.
This risk doubles for children from CALD backgrounds living in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas.
Settlement Services International’s general manager of newcomers, settlement and integration, Yamamah Agha, said children from migrant and refugee backgrounds need to be able to access culturally responsive education and support tailored to their needs.

“The higher rates of developmental vulnerability among multicultural children in the early years risks perpetuating a cycle where those who start school behind, often stay behind, with significant impacts for the rest of their lives.”

Higher rates of developmental vulnerability among multicultural children in the early years risks … significant impacts for the rest of their lives.

Yamamah Agha, Settlement Services International

Sally Brinkman, professor of education at the University of South Australia, said mapping out multicultural children’s engagement in early childhood learning is increasingly important as Australia becomes more culturally diverse.
“Participation in early childhood education is a powerful investment. It doesn’t just benefit the children and their families, but it also creates a chain reaction bringing real and important advantages to Australia’s economy and society.”
Leila and her children have, through the help of Settlement Services International, now been connected with culturally responsive therapists who also speak Leila’s language.

They are accessing kindergarten, social classes, supported playgroups, and schools.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “The ‘helpless’ feeling that made Leila withdraw her daughter from childcare”
  1. It’s heartbreaking to read about Leila’s struggles with finding suitable childcare for her daughter. The lack of support for non-English speakers is concerning, and it’s crucial for services to provide adequate assistance in such situations. Every child deserves access to quality early childhood education, regardless of their background.

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