Just because a child care setting adheres to ADA and licensing regulations it does not mean that it will be a family’s first choice in care for their child with special needs. There are certain things that families seek out in a child care center and it is quite helpful for directors to know and understand these things. All families value many of the same things in a child care setting and families with special needs are no different. Often the atmosphere, cultural respect, interactions, and safety are of utmost importance to any family in any community. The difference with a special needs family is that their child may need some specific accommodations that must be met to ensure a child’s well-being. This may range from medication to accessibility and families must judge a child care setting based on many things.
Here are just some of the setting components that families are focusing on when choosing a child care center:
The character of staff Are staff attentive to a child’s needs? Does the child feel comfortable with the staff members? Are staff kind and helpful? How do staff make families feel?
Ratios Licensing ratios should always be maintained, however, families with special needs may prefer a smaller ratio to ensure their child’s well-being. This is something that they are considering when choosing a center.
The environment Is it too loud? Is the classroom overstimulating for other senses? Are there accessible toys and materials? Is diversity of abilities recognized?
Communication Is it easy for parents to contact you or other staff members with a concern? Likewise, is it easy for you to contact parents to give them information and more? What system is in place to make this as seamless as possible?
Inclusivity Does the center strive to include all children of mixed ability levels? Are there other children with special needs at the center?
Routine Are there routines and procedures in place to benefit children with special needs? Likewise, is there flexibility for children with different needs and abilities?
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