Why this project?
There is a critical period for our children (kids with mild and moderate intellectual and developmental difficulties -DID) from the moment they finish High school till they access the working place. There is a considerable lack of educational choices for this segment of the population that correlated with the lack of job opportunities.
Due to this situation a group of parents has come together to improve the present educational choices our kids have, with the knowledge that training and education will be key to their professional future.
This project has successfully developed and over time more parents associations (AMPA), schools and institutions have joined us. Proving that it is a concerned shared not only by parents but also by professionals.
Why is so important to continue receiving education during the period between 16 till 21 years old?
- Training in this period of their life could help to successfully achieve near-standardized social and professional integration.
- Knowing that it is very important to have a good education for children without difficulty, for our children is KEY! We must give them all the possible tools and resources to get their maximum potential.
The maturation process of the kids with mild and moderate intellectual and developmental difficulties (DID) is slower, and each of them has its own rhythm. It is not realistic to await them to know at 16-17 years of age what job to choose for their whole life. It is also not realistic to except them to acquire all the necessary knowledge for the job in 1 or 2 years.
What is wrong?
- Not enough school placement available. There are 450 public and charter schools placement available vs 2,000 young people between the age of 16 and 21 years old with DID in Catalonia.
- Lack of education choices: if education options are increasing for everyone, why our kids are condemned to choose from so few alternatives? Plumber, carpenter, gardener, kitchen, administrative … some of these choises are already obsolete.
- Programs not address to our children. The programs PQPIs (now called PFIS: Training and Insertion Programs) but the only possibility for kids with DID to have education after High school . The roll of the PQPIs came as a formula to provide some training for children who failed High school (BUT with no intellectual difficulties). Our children, are placed in these programs without considering the severe limitations that involve:
- Very short duration: 1 or 2 years. Totally insufficient to prepare them for their new professional stage.
- Contents and rhythms not adapted: those PFIS are not thought and prepared for children with DID, therefore are unsuitable for our children.
- The specific PQPIs/PFIS (adapted) resolve a very small part of the problem. The real situation: There are very few schools, with very limited options and with little flexibility to work on specific contents.
- The students that want to access the programs mentioned above must give up their degree of High school, in order to be admitted in these programs. Our children (those who passed High school with a lot of effort) have to rensign this title.
- Despite being regulated by the Education Department, those programs are not inside the regular education system ( College or Trade School). Our kids are left out, and with little stability. Sometimes programs are cancelled from one year to the next
Increase the number of public and charter school placement, once the students with DID finish High school. Allowing more kids with DID to have access to higher education. The training should last until they are 21 years old (as it is a right guaranteed by the Basic Law 2/2006).
Ensuring a 4 years professional training program for children DID once they finish High school. These programs should be inside the Trade School system (FP). We do not want more programs; we have the right of being included inside the Trade School (FP).
Flexible content so the students with DID can be trained in general skills and knowledge, not just technician skills.
New professional areas, according to the preferences of our young adults, but also to the reality of the labour market. It is necessary to have an innovative vision to avoid immobility. 2 areas of priority: animal care assistant and assistant sports instructor/leisure instructor.
The aim is to provide a greater flexibility inside a large area to suite preference of the children with DID.
Facilitate job placement opportunities by:
- Dual Training (Training in school and training in the work place)
- Working with support staff
The internship and the dual training have been proven to be very positive to break resistances in companies to employ people with DID. The dual training also provides a specialization in a particular job. Working with support staff is the key to a successful insertion along in life.
What have we done until now?
- Resolution of the Parliament of Catalonia 573/X March 6th 2014, which recognizes our needs and urges for the Government to take action .
- Participation in the Associations Bureau of the Education Department, with specific conclusions January 2014.
- Meeting with the Education Minister Irene Rigau, who established communication with Dincat (Catalan Association of intellectually disabled) to move forward.
- Project presentation in the Parliament of Catalonia on November 20th 2014, where all the different parties and the President of the Education Commission invited us to take part in the making of the new law on professional education.
- We spoke to several schools and educational institutions that are very interested in developing this new offer, once the Department regulates.