Finding a daycare provider for any child is a challenge. If your child has a physical disability, however, it might seem overwhelming to search for a provider you feel comfortable and confident leaving your child with. Review these tips to make the transition easier for you, your child, and the daycare provider.
Decide What You Want in a Provider
The first step for you is to sit down and decide what you want daycare to be like for your child. Every parent does this, and you might be surprised at how similar your list is to your peers'. Some aspects of daycare to consider include
- Environment: What type of environment will help your child thrive? Would a larger daycare or smaller daycare suit your child's personality and needs better? Do you want a lot of educational structure or a lot of social interaction for your child's day? What sort of discipline methods do you want the providers to incorporate?
- Safety and Access: Does the facility have accommodations for your child's disability? Do you need ramp access and limited stairs inside the room? Is there enough space between chairs and tables for your child to maneuver without the risk of falling? Are there railings in the bathrooms to help your child relieve him/herself?
- Hours and Cost: What hours do you need daycare? Can you find a provider that accommodates your work schedule? What is the policy if you are late picking your child up or have a rotating schedule and change daycare days often? Will a daycare charge more for a child with disabilities who may need extra care and attention?
Spend Extra Time with the Provider
Once you have determined what type of daycare and provider you want to find for your child, arrange to spend extra time with each provider before deciding which to send your son or daughter to. This will help you gauge the childcare provider's abilities with children, and should also help you feel more confident that your child will thrive in the new environment. Some things you should do with the provider before deciding to enroll include:
- Tour the Daycare: This is something many parents do unannounced. They feel this gives them a better idea of the day-to-day treatment of children, the structure and activities, and overall cleanliness of the facility. If you bring a child with physical disabilities, however, you may need to give advance notice so the provider can ensure that there is room for maneuvering throughout the room.
- Teach the Provider: Daycare providers go through various certifications and trainings before opening their own business. However, you may need to show the provider specific things to help your child. For example, if your child wears arm or leg braces, you should teach the provider how to adjust them. If a wheelchair is used, show how to operate it, demonstrate how to lift your child in case he or she falls out of the chair or there is an emergency situation. Let your child explain the disability and what makes them uncomfortable and what helps them learn, too.
- Inspect the Daycare: Go through the daycare center with the potential provider and point out areas in the room that may be difficult for your child to navigate or activities that may need extra supervision to perform. If your child has difficulty walking and uses walk aids, make sure rugs are taped down or removed to prevent tripping. If your child struggles with motor skills, explain how the blocks station might be frustrating and which activities help develop those motor skills so your child will be comfortable at the blocks station. Help the provider make necessary adjustments so you know your child will be in a fun and safe learning environment.
A child with disabilities can thrive in a daycare environment. However, you should find a provider you feel confident will understand and meet the needs of your child. To get started, contact a company like Basics Primary School & Day Care.