Childcare for Children with Special Needs
● By Hood Magazine
The list of attributes to watch for in choosing a quality experience for a child with special needs is quite similar to what all parents should be seeking. Here are some things to consider when looking for care.
Staff and Ratio- The staff should be caring, patient, well trained and excited to spend time with your child. When touring a new program, talk to a few staff members in addition to the director. Watch as team members interact with students. Ask about staff turnover and training. Often a child's medical, behavioral or physical needs require staff to listen carefully to parent instructions and understand best practices in the field. Find out the ratio of staff to children.
Facility- Ensure that the space is appropriate for your child. Is it safe, accessible, and clean? Are the supplies and materials appropriate and engaging for your child? Think about the things that help your child feel comfortable and safe. Depending on your child's needs, you may want to see a secure door system or a playground with specialized equipment. For children with sensory processing challenges it may be helpful to note the number of children in care as well as the noise level and lighting.
Activities- Most children and youth benefit from structure and consistency. Programs should offer a daily schedule with activities that are appropriate for the children and youth in their care. This may include field trips, art, technology, science, literacy, games, recreation and more. The supplies and materials should be appropriate for your child and ideally should include any equipment that will help your child be more successful. For example, at Here4Youth we have a "spin art" set that allows students to control the art project with a head switch or hand switch to make a fun project more accessible for everyone.
Policies- It is important to carefully read the policies and procedures to ensure the program is a good fit for your son or daughter. Know the behavior management policy as well as any policies related to health or safety that pertain to your child.
Good luck in finding the best program for your child because school is even more fun when you love where you go after school!