Early childhood service delivery for families living with childhood disability: Disabling families through problematic implicit ideology
Early Childhood Australia
Computing, Health and Science
Psychology and Social Science, Social Justice Research Centre
The aim of this paper is to unpack the implicit ideology underpinning early childhood service delivery for families living with childhood disability. The family as the unit of care is central to the philosophy and practice of early childhood services. However, the practice of family-centred care can be problematic; it is based upon neo-liberal assumptions of "idealised" families, underestimates the profound impact of childhood disability on the family, and encourages service providers to conflate parents' involvement in care with responsibility for it. Further, the notion of chronic sorrow is often applied in order to describe parents and/or families as either "in denial" or too aggrieved to enact their therapeutic imperative, and individualised and psychologised interpretations are made. Service delivery in early childhood settings often reinforces--rather than acts to reduce--social, cultural and economic injustices. Clearly then, childhood disability remains institutionalised, but just within the institution of the family. Attention to the largely silenced, yet multiple, shifting, and complex issues faced by families living with childhood disability is required and will likely have implications for early childhood service delivery.