Child Care for Children with Special NeedsIt's all about inclusion...
Many children, including those with disabilities and special needs, spend some time in a child care environment. Inclusive child care means bringing all children together regardless of ability or disability instead of keeping them apart.
What is Inclusive Child Care?
An inclusive child care program is dedicated to giving the best early care and education possible to ALL children by making sure every child, including children with special needs, feels welcome and important. Inclusion teaches children and adults some great life lessons in accepting others and ourselves as unique individuals with unique strengths and needs.
How Do I Find a Child Care Program That Meets My Child's Needs?
You can call Community Connection for Child Care at 661.861.5200 or 877.861.5200 (Toll free) for help finding a suitable program. You can also search on your own, just as you would for any type of child care program:
- Ask about the provider's training, education and experience.
- Observe the caregiver interact with the children in the program. Does she or he seem warm and friendly, patient and involved?
- Look at the children in the program. Do they seem happy and involved?
- Ask to see a current license. Find out if the staff have been screened for child abuse/neglect.
- Ask about the number of caregivers in the program. Are there enough adults to care for the number and ages of the children?
- Ask about the program. Is a schedule posted? Is there time for children to work in small groups, play alone and rest?
- Visit more than one program. Look at the facility. Is it clean, well lighted and cheerful? Are exits unblocked and are there fire and smoke detectors?
How Will Other Children React to a Child with Special Needs?
Young children are very accepting. When they watch adults who are warm and accepting they will display warmth and acceptance. Rejection of children with special needs is unusual. In fact, one of the benefits of inclusive child care is increased sensitivity toward individual differences.
FOR CHILD CARE PROVIDERS
What Kinds of Special Needs Might I Encounter?
Children with special needs include children of all abilities, cultures, races, and backgrounds. Like all children, they have individual interests, likes, and dislikes. Some children with special needs have physical disabilities, speech or other developmental delays, or difficulty interacting with other children or adults. Special needs may be mild to moderate to severe in range. Whatever the range of need, children with disabilities are more like other children than they are different--as they play, make friends, feel pleasure or sadness, and nurturing.
The families need the same things all families need: respect, support and reassurance. Those with very young children may still be learning how to best care for their child. You can be a major source of support and information for them.
Do Providers Need Special Skills or Equipment to Accept Children with Special Needs into Their Programs?
Caring for children with special needs requires the same basic skills (patience, empathy, and acceptance of each child as an individual) that are need to care for any child. It means providing a developmentally appropriate environment for this child as well as all the children in the program. Some children with special needs use specialized equipment (wheelchairs, walkers, communication devices, hearing aids, etc.), but many do not. Most toys and activities are appropriate or can be easily adapted if necessary. Look to the child's family for information and guidance on the use of any special equipment.
How Do I Get Started?
When the family of a child with special needs approaches you, listen carefully. The parents or guardian are usually the best source of information on the needs and care of their child. Some questions you may wish to ask when you meet the family are:
- Tell me about your child.
- What is his or her daily routine?
- What toys and activities does your child enjoy?
- What makes your child happy or sad? How does he or she convey those feelings? How is he or she best comforted?
- What are your child's greatest strengths? What are his or her greatest challenges?
- Are there any special things we will need to do as we get acquainted?
- Does your child require special equipment, medication, or therapy that I should know about?
- Creating Inclusion in your Child Care Setting
- What’s Your Attitude Toward Inclusion?
- Mainstreaming, Integration, Inclusion—Our Future
- Circle of Inclusion
- Helping Young Children Learn About Differences
- Early Childhood Research Institute on Inclusion (ECRII)
ACTIVITIES & CURRICULUM
- Field Trips For All
- Adapting Toys and Play Materials
- Physical Fitness for All Abilities
- Top 10 Tips for Choosing Toys for a Child with Special Needs
- United Way Born Learning: Everyday Learning Opportunities and Activities
- A Place of Our Own
- Boundless Playgrounds
HEALTH & SAFETY
- Emergency Information Form for Children with Special Needs
- Plan for Emergency Response for Children with Special Needs
- Child Abuse and Children with Special Needs
- Car Seat Safety for Children with Special Needs
- Environments Can Send A Message
- Working With Parents: Do’s and Dont's
- What’s the Plan: Implementing an IFSP or IEP in Child Care
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is good news for child care!
- Being Part of the Team
- Making Referrals: What to Do with Your Concerns About a Child's Development or Behavior
- Caring for Kids with Chronic Illnesses
- Caring for a Child with Asthma
- Caring for a Child with Developmental Delays
- Kids with AD/HD in Child Care? Yes!
- A Sign of the Times: Sign Language in Child Care
- Kern Early Start Program
If your baby, or a baby you know, was born with a condition requiring special care, he or she may need special services.
- Search and Serve
Any individual that believes they know a child that might require special education intervention may call the Search and Serve office or their local school district office and talk with someone about their concerns. Programs and services from birth until age 21 are available to a child that has a disability.
- KCSOS Programs for Infants and Toddlers
- KCSOS Preschool: Programs for Children Ages 3-5
- Kern County Department of Mental Health
- H.E.A.R.T.S Connection
- Kern Regional Center