Making the choice of putting your child into a childcare program can be a daunting task for any parent, there are a multitude of questions to ask yourself before leaving your child in the care of strangers but if your child has special needs maybe from learning difficulties or a disability then this makes the task of choosing the right care provider even harder. It must be realized that each child and each disability is unique. A child with visual impairments might have different needs than a child who has behavioral challenges. Also, some of the children have more than one type of disability, with varying degrees of severity.
It thus becomes crucial for the child care providers, in some of the cases, to make a few changes to the child care program for the child with a special need to fit in and participate fully. In certain other special situations, modifications to the child care program are extensive and may require more time, effort and expense.
Basic Requirement Of ADA for Child Care Centers
All the privately-run child care centers which includes the small home-based centers and all child care services provided by government agencies must comply with the ADA.
- Child care providers must never discriminate against the children with disabilities, and must provide them with an equal opportunity to participate in their programs and services. They cannot exclude children with disabilities from their programs unless such children pose a direct threat to the safety of others.
- Centers are held responsible to make reasonable modifications to their practices, so as to include children with disabilities in their programs.
- They must also provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services to facilitate effective communication with children with disabilities.
- The centers must be accessible to people with disabilities. Child care providers must remove any barriers and install offset hinges to widen a door opening, install grab bars in toilet stalls, or rearrange the tables, chairs or other furniture to facilitate easy passage of wheelchair.
Child Care Guide For Special Needs Kids
Just because your child has special needs doesn’t mean that he/she won’t benefit from being in child care, indeed many children with disabilities or learning difficulties have benefited greatly from being away from the home environment.
Not only can your child benefit but you can too, you will get a much needed break because looking after a child with special needs 24/7 can be a drain both mentally and physically on yourself and any relationship you may be in.
The hardest part is finding suitable day care for a child with special needs, the center will have to provide not only excellent normal childhood activities for your child but they will also have to meet the particular needs of a child with a disability.
Special Needs Child Care Requirements
Every child with special needs is different so there are no hard and fast rules when looking for a day care center but they should meet certain basic requirements, things you should consider are:
- The center should include children with and without learning difficulties giving the children a chance to intermingle with each other, this then helps children develop skills such as helping each other. It also helps inspire respect for others and helps your child to look past another child’s disability.
- Staff should be trained to provide your child with the specific requirements he/she needs for their particular problem. If your child has special needs due to an illness then staff should be fully aware and able to cope with any situation which may arise from the illness.
- Your child should be able to be independent as much as his/her disability will allow them to be, restriction should only be made for any activities which could harm them or are prohibited by your Doctor. In which case the center should be made fully aware of any restrictions.
- Build portfolios for children with special needs. They are a helpful tool to document milestones so as to acknowledge the progress, and the information is then provided to the team to create the child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) with more information to help support that child’s learning.
- Friendships are crucial for everyone at all the stages of life, specifically when children with special needs in a child care classroom, interact with normally developing children, they can develop friendships among children with different strengths and abilities. Thus, peer support is important for a child with special needs to form genuine emotional friendships and also to obtain practical help for the daily activities at the class. Also, the other children get the chance to interact with people with varying abilities, and learn that disabilities are simply a part of life.
- Help the children with special needs to develop meaningful friendships. This step requires the help and cooperation of both the parents and daycare service providers. Allow children time alone together, organize the play area, have multiples of some toys, encourage playfulness, set up play situations, reinforce positive behavior, be an appropriate role model, give the child with a special need a leadership role, however, never force friendships between children of any age or ability.
- The center should allow for flexibility in activities for example alterations to toys and equipment for children who are visually impaired or in a wheelchair.
- The center should have equipment that will meet the needs of the children for example breathing aids for children suffering from asthma and chest problems. Staff should be fully trained in the use of any equipment.
- Staff should be able to recognise the onset of symptoms of any medical problem the child suffers from, for example a child suffering from chronic asthma, staff should be able to recognise the onset of an attack and know how to deal with it quickly.
- Staff should be able to administer any medication a child may need and know how to reach the child’s Doctor and parent in the case of an emergency.
- The center should be able to cater for children in wheelchairs and accesses to any areas such as playgrounds and equipment should have wheelchair access.
Before deciding which day care center your child should attend it is well worth making an appointment to go and look around the center and ask some of the above questions and see for yourself the range and quality of the care which is available at the center.
Any respectable day care provider will be more than happy to discuss your child’s requirements and suggest any changes or extra training staff might have to undertake if you decide to put your child under their care. Usually if staff needs special training to be able to deal with your child’s problems then if the center is willing to offer this training to a staff member any costs that will occur as a result will be down to you to cover.