If you have a child with special needs, your child care search will not only include finding a safe and quality setting but also ensuring that the caregivers meet the unique needs of your child.
The following steps compiled by Child Care Aware of America can get you started on your search:
- Think About Your Child Care Needs
- What kind of setting do you feel your child will thrive in? Are you looking for a provider who has specific experience with disabled children? What hours will you need care?
- Get a List of Child Care Programs
- Contact our 4C for Children Family & Community Services Specialists at 800-256-1296 x1330, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit 4cforchildren.org/families/find-child-care/. We can compile a personalized list of child care providers who have openings and are able to care for your child and meet their unique needs. We can take the time to ask providers of their experience with serving children with disabilities or who have an IEP or 504 plan through their school. We will also help you narrow down your search to a small number of programs to tour and help ensure a program is a good fit for your family and your child.
- Do Your Homework
- Research the programs on your list from 4C to learn more about them before you contact them.
- Make the Call
- Call the programs and talk with them about your child.
- Take a Tour
- Get a feel for the program environment, whether it is a virtual or in-person tour, and see if it will be a positive experience for your child.
- Make the Choice
- You are your child’s first teacher, and their best advocate. Choose the place that you feel is the best fit to partner with your family in your child’s early years. Once you make your choice, stay in open communication with your provider as you work together to prepare your child for success in school and life.
Community Support for Children With Disabilities
The following organizations and local events can help connect your family with the support that you need:
- Early Childhood Special Needs Resource Directory from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
- Family Support Resource Directory from Dayton Children’s Hospital
- Pause for Parents, Play for Kids
Parenting Support for Children With Disabilities
Here are some additional resources to help support your family.
- I am concerned about my child’s development. Who do I talk to about my worries? From ZERO TO THREE
- Finding Respite Care for Your Child With Special Needs, from kidshealth.org
- Back-to-School Tips for Parents of Children with Special Needs, from Reading Rockets
- Preventing Exclusion and Expulsion from Child Care Programs, from childcare.gov
- Tiered Online Training and Support Paid Research Study – for family caregivers children age 2 -6 with Intellectual or Developmental Disability in Ohio, from Center on Brain Injury Research & Training
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