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VARC’s Preschool Sets the Stage for Inclusivity in Childcare

Preschool Childcare Center’s 2024 daycare model integrates children of all abilities in the pursuit to make quality childcare available to all La Crosse working families.

LA CROSSE, WI.—Working in tandem with VARC’s Child & Youth Services, the Preschool Childcare Center (PCC) now serves children with disabilities, making it La Crosse’s preeminent inclusive daycare provider. The PCC is now serving two enrolled children with disabilities this quarter, kicking off a demographic trend that will hopefully grow as new children join the roster.

The PCC’s integrative model works with VARC’s Child & Youth Services to field referrals for new children whose needs fit regular daycare. Once a child with disabilities arrives

at preschool, they are greeted by their own personal support person, who works with them throughout the day and accompanies them in large-group settings.

Attending preschool has opened up opportunities for socializing and developing greater emotional well-being. One little boy with an oxygen tank has widened his social circle

significantly from just his relatives to play with a whole class of similarly aged peers. “I think the child himself feels more freedom and normalcy,” said Lisa Goodwin, Daycare Director at the PCC. “Before he stayed home with dad full-time; now he is able to try new things and meet new friends.”

Including children with disabilities into the wider preschool population at the PCC has also shown the other children how to normalize differences and embrace new playmates who look slightly different from themselves. “It was different when he first started... the kids were especially curious about the machine and the tubes that he was hooked up to,” said Lisa. She reports that the children no longer pay attention to the fact that their classmate is hooked up to a tank, and that he’s just another friend in their classroom.

“We are all excited to see other children with special needs being integrated into our classrooms, and to see all of the children accept them as they are,” says Lisa.


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