High Intensity Outside School Hours Care Initiative for students with disabilities

Supporting children and young people with disabilities to access appropriate OSHC services for free.

High Intensity Outside School Hours Care Initiative builds on the outside schools hours care (OSHC) Demonstration Program operating since 2018 allowing children and young people with disabilities to access appropriate OSHC services for free.

OSHC for students with disabilities

Children and young people with disabilities often require more intensive and different supports to participate fully in outside school hours care (OSHC) than their typically developing peers. This includes young people in their teens who need OSHC because of their disability, but cannot attend mainstream services, which are for primary-aged children only.

A survey found that 81% of Victorian parents and carers of children and young people with disabilities have experienced difficulties in finding appropriate OSHC services.

Parents raised this issue with the Premier in 2017 during roundtable discussions, and the OSHC Demonstration Program was launched in response.

The program was intended to pilot a model of service delivery to fill this gap and provide an evidence base to inform the future provision of these services.

Funding

OSHC funding is included within the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) sector and is primarily a funding responsibility of the Commonwealth.

Since 2018, the Victorian Government has funded a small number of OSHC services providing higher intensity support at five specialist schools and an inclusive service at one mainstream school:

  • Jackson School – St Albans
  • Yarrabah School – Aspendale
  • Bendigo Special Developmental School – Kangaroo Flat
  • Kalianna School – Bendigo
  • Officer Specialist School – Officer
  • Laurimar Primary School – Doreen

As part of the Fighting for students with disabilities and their families commitment, $121.7 million has been allocated to increase the provision of OSHC in specialist schools. This will enable a continuation and increase in the existing High Intensity OSHC Initiative from 5 to 20 specialist schools in 2024, 25 in 2025 and 30 in 2026.

The following schools will have High Intensity OSHC services in 2024:

  • Ballarat Specialist School, Lake Gardens
  • Bendigo Special Developmetal School, Kangaroo Flat
  • Concord School, Watsonia
  • Diamond Valley Special Developmental School, Greensborough
  • Emerson School, Dandenong
  • Jackson School, St Albans
  • Kalianna Special School, Bendigo
  • Lake Colac School, Colac
  • Marnebek School Cranbourne, Cranbourne East
  • Melton Specialist School, Melton
  • Monash Special Developmental School, Wheelers Hill
  • Nelson Park School, Bell Park
  • Officer Specialist School, Officer
  • South Gippsland Specialist School, Leongatha
  • Sunbury & Macedon Ranges Specialist School, Sunbury
  • Warringa Park School, Hoppers Crossing
  • Wayi School, Craigieburn
  • Western Autistic School, Laverton
  • Yarrabah School, Aspendale
  • Yarraville Special Developmental School, Yarraville

Services

Children and young people are involved in a diverse range of activities, including incursions and excursions. They are given opportunities to engage in a range of social and life skills activities with the support of higher staff to child ratios, with an average of one staff member for every two children or young people.

The funding enables providers to purchase specialised resources and deliver professional learning and training to educators, to ensure the services and supports meet the unique needs of each child and young person participating.

Program evaluation

Findings from the evaluation undertaken by PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting found that inclusive OSHC programs provide a wide range of benefits to participating children and young people, their families, their schools and the community. These include:

  • parents and carers can increase their participation in work, training or study (48% of those surveyed agreed that the program had already enabled them to increase their participation, with a further 44% stating that they intended to if the program continued).
  • an increase in family wellbeing, with parents/carers having more time to take care of themselves and/or their other children.
  • participating children and young people are exposed to a wide range of experiences they may not have been able to access otherwise, including opportunities to access and form connections within the community.
  • children and young people can build and embed social and life skills.
  • children and young people experience improved social and emotional wellbeing and positive educational outcomes.
  • Victorian communities becoming more inclusive of all people living with disabilities.

IncludED@OSHC

The learnings from the OSHC Demonstration Program helped to inform IncludED@OSHC – guidance, resources and tools to support the delivery of high-quality inclusive OSHC.

A suite of online resources is available now for OSHC providers, educators, schools, leaders and managers.

Please visit IncludED@OSHC to find out how you can make a difference in the lives of children living with a complex disability.

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