The European childminders training to support inclusion of autistic children (ChildIN) project focused on developing a training for European childminders to foster inclusion of children on the autism spectrum. Running from November 2018 to April 2021, the project was funded by the European Commission’s Erasmus+ Programme.
In recent decades, there has been a growing interest on the availability and the quality of early education and care (ECEC) in the European Union. This is due both to an increased understanding of the role played by early years in children’s development, and to the need of supporting women’s labour force participation.
Currently available competence frameworks for childminders don’t include specific learning for children with special needs as separated and full developed modules, but integrated in general modules of care. This has a direct impact both on their employability opportunities, and on the availability of skilled workers for families. However, some short lifelong learning modules are available for some of the most common disabilities. These are largely inadequate to address the need of skilled caretakers of families dealing with children on the autism spectrum.
In this context, the ChildIN project aimed at providing specific blended training for childminders focusing on the autism spectrum.
The project brought together three training and certification providers, one public body dealing with welfare and support to families and communities, and two associations representing people on the autism spectrum and their families at national and European level to:
- Develop a competence framework for childminders working with autistic children;
- Make available an online database of resources for dealing with autistic children;
- Test and validate a set of blended training materials implementing the learning architecture;
- Create guidelines on how to use tools and materials provided by the project, in order to support usage of results by other vocational education training (VET) players in Europe;
- Draft policy recommendations to provide useful insights for policy planning, contributing then to the improvement of the learning offer for childminders, and to the improvement of quality offer to care recipients.
The project coordinator, the IPERIA Institut from France, worked closely with all the other partners, including: le Conséil départemental de la Nièvre from France, Academia Comenius and the Associação Portuguesa para as Perturbações do Desenvolvimento e Autismo de Coimbra – APPDA from Portugal, Techpal Sp. z o.o. from Poland and Autism-Europe from Belgium.
Autism-Europe took the lead on the Dissemination and the Policy Recommendations Work-Packages, apart from taking responsibility for the project’s final international event held in Brussels, Belgium, by April 2021.
The evaluation of the competence framework was supported by a focus group comprising professional childminders, VET providers, healthcare professionals and individuals on the autism spectrum and their families. This was designed to ensure that key stakeholders were actively involved in designing the project at all stages to ensure relevance and appropriateness.
About the Erasmus+ Programme
Erasmus+ is the EU’s programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe. Its budget of €14.7 billion will provide opportunities for over 4 million Europeans to study, train, gain experience, and volunteer abroad.