Welcome to our Special Needs page

Special Needs

Children with physical, developmental, behavioural/emotional or sensory impaired challenges are attending early learning settings. It is important to ensure both overall program quality and inclusion quality – how well early childhood programs support individual children with special needs and their families in an environment that is friendly, welcoming and enjoyable.



About SpeciaLink

SpeciaLink is the National Centre for Early Childhood Inclusion, a non-profit organization dedicated to the equitable inclusion of children with disabilities in child care and other community programs. SpeciaLink provides research and resources to assist parents, ELCC programs, training institutions, advocates, consultants and researchers to improve the quality and quantity of inclusive child care across Canada.

SpeciaLink Resources

The SpeciaLink Inclusion Scale is the tool for assessing inclusion quality in early childhood centres and for helping centres move toward higher quality inclusion of children with disabilities. Using the SpeciaLink Inclusion Scale workbook, you can produce a picture of sustainable and evolving inclusion quality in your classrooms and centres. This information is essential as more and more children with disabilities attend early learning and child care centres. The SpeciaLink Early Childhood Inclusion Quality Scale is available at The price is $18.95.

Inclusion Quality presents a thoughtful analysis of the recent work of SpeciaLink—the results of observations using the SpeciaLink Early Childhood Inclusion Quality Scale, in over 65 early learning and child care centres across Canada, and provides essential recommendations toward improving the quality of care for children with disabilities. Free PDF available below:


The Executive Summary and Recommendations are available in French and in English, here.

How to Measure Inclusion Quality in Child Care” is a SpeciaLink Training DVD for the SpeciaLink Inclusion Scale.This DVD trains in the use of The SpeciaLInk Early Childhood Inclusion Quality Scale. The Scale is the critical tool for assessing inclusion quality in early learning and child care centres—a major issue as more and more centres commit to including more children with disabilities. You can order it at Price $40.00, includes shipping.

Enjoy Some Of Our Past Content On This Topic

  1. Communicating with Children who have Special Needs
    In describing a child with special needs, be sure to put the child before the disability. For example say “a child with a learning disability” instead of a “learning-disabled child.” Download the copy here
  2. How Do You Know That You Are Moving Toward Inclusion?
    As more children with special needs are included in community early learning settings, it is important to consider both overall program quality and inclusion quality – how well early childhood programs support individual children with special needs in an environment that is friendly, welcoming and enjoyable. Download the copy here
  3. Learning to use “Words”! 
    For children who have extreme difficulty speaking, it is often helpful to introduce other ways to communicate. Download the copy here.

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Anyone working in licensed child care has to apply for certification. You will find certification information for your province or territory on our child care certification page.

With your resume and cover letter ready (we’ll provide guides for this soon), contact child care centres and introduce yourself! You can call, email, or even message them on social media. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get a reply. Try again a few days later to give them your resume in person. Remember that due to safety reasons you need to call first. Tell them you live in their area, and that you’re looking for a position.

On our provincial and territorial map we link to child care associations in your area. Follow the link to your association and join today. The associations provide valuable information to anyone starting out in their career. Even experienced ECEs can benefit. You’ll also enjoy valuable member benefits like discounts, meet other ECEs, and become a part of the child care movement in Canada.

If you join your provincial or territorial affiliate, you’re automatically also a member of the CCCF.

All licensed and regulated quality child care programs in Canada require these for the safety and security of children and families.

If you’re just starting out:

  1. Get certified!
  2. Find the requirements for your province or territory
  3. Write your resume and begin your job search. We’ll provide tips on this soon. 
  4. Get your vulnerable sector check and first aid training

Join our Facebook Group and meet other ECEs who may be able to answer your questions

Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) are incredible professionals that have rewarding, important and demanding careers. They work with young children (and their families), ages 0-12, nurturing and educating them, observing and planning for their growth and development while ensuring that they are healthy. They create interactive and dynamic learning environments where children develop social skills, develop cognitive skills and foster lifelong learning. ECEs work in child care centres, classrooms, home child cares, preschool, and parent drop-in programs. You do not need a teaching degree to be an ECE, but you do need your ECE diploma.

Annual Membership rate $90 CAD.
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Annual Membership rate $65 CAD.
Join now!

Annual Membership rate $65 CAD.
Join now!