Child Care Aware of Missouri supports the right of every infant and young child and his or her family to participate in a broad range of activities and settings. We hope that children with and without disabilities and their families have a sense of belonging and membership, positive social relationships and friendships, and development and learning to reach their full potential.
If your child has difficult-to-manage allergies, challenging behavior, asthma, autism, or a range of other special needs, we can help. Each regional agency has an Inclusion Specialist to answer your questions. For more information or to contact an Inclusion Specialist, please Contact Us.
How Do I Find an Inclusive Child Care Program?
Although there are some child care programs that specialize in caring for children with diverse needs and abilities, most are not specialized. When looking for child care, consider the following tips:
- Ask about the teacher’s or family child care operator’s education and experience. Ask to see a current license. Find out if the staff has been screened for child abuse/neglect.
- Observe her or his interactions with the children in the program. Does she or he seem warm, friendly, patient, and involved?
- Look at the children in the program. Do they seem happy and involved?
- Ask about the number of caregivers in the program. Are there enough adults to care for the number and ages of the children?
How Do I Talk to My Own or Potential Caregivers?
- Speak clearly about your child’s strengths and unique qualities.
- Tell the child care staff about your child’s routine, likes, dislikes, and what makes him or her happy or sad.
- Be honest about what your child needs, including any special assistance or equipment.
- Be willing to help your child care program solve problems that might arise.
- Remember that you know your child better than anyone else. Stand up for your child’s rights and trust your knowledge and ability to share what you have learned about your child.
What if a Program Doesn’t Want to Take My Child Because of His or Her Special Needs?
With any child care facility, a good “fit” is important. You want to find someone you can trust and with whom you can develop a good working relationship. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) considers child care facilities to be public accommodations and requires them to address the needs of people with disabilities, just like theaters and restaurants. This requirement means that children with disabilities cannot be excluded from a program solely because of a disability.
Under the ADA, child care programs are required to make reasonable accommodations to address the needs of individuals with disabilities. Imagination, a positive attitude, and a child-centered approach can usually produce creative and achievable accommodations.
How Will Other Children React to a Child with Diverse Needs and Abilities?
Young children are very accepting. When they see adults who are warm and accepting, they will display warmth and acceptance. Rejection of children with diverse needs and abilities is unusual. In fact, one of the benefits of inclusive child care is increased sensitivity toward individual differences.
Can My Child’s Special Services be Coordinated with His or Her Child Care?
It is important that everyone working with and caring for your child stay connected.
Ask your child care program to be included in Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) or Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings.
If your child is under three years of age, ask your First Steps Service Coordinator to arrange for services to be delivered in the setting of your choice, including child care. Work with the person responsible for coordinating your child’s services in your local public school system.