Choosing a daycare facility for disabled children can be a time consuming process. Parents want to find a facility that offers the best care for their children and one that their child will be happy attending. Not all daycare facilities are created equal, however. Laws about the care offered varies from private to public daycare facilities, and from state to state. Therefore, it is important to research all aspects of a facility before placing a child in one.
Choosing a Daycare Facility
When researching a daycare facility for disabled children, the following items should be included on your checklist:
- Entrance to the facility. Is the entrance to the daycare facility accessible? A facility that caters to the disabled should have a ramp or lift that assists those using mobility devices to easily access the building. Automatic doors are also a sign that it is an accessible facility.
- Indoor facilities. The inside of the facility should look clean, smell clean and have accessible classroom doors, tables, chairs and bathrooms. If there is more than one floor of the building, is there an elevator for students using mobility devices?
- Classroom child to staff ratio. In order for a child to get the attention they need, they require as much one-on-one time with a teacher as possible. In some cases, a child may need an aide that spends the entire day with the child to make sure that all of their needs are being met.
- Research the provider skills. Do the teachers have the skills, training and experience to teach a child with a specific disability? Make sure that the facility chosen has the staff with the best skills and experience to care for a disabled child.
- Educational environment. The best daycare facility has a positive educational environment that promotes physical, emotional and social growth of all of the children in a classroom. Look for a classroom where the children are being engaged and are allowed to interact with each other.
- Discipline and guidance. Observe a class in progress as well a other group activities being led by teachers. What form of discipline is being used to maintain control of a group of children? How are they being guided to do what is being asked of them in class?
- Staff response time. As you are observing a class or other instruction, if a child does something that requires a teacher’s response, how long does the child wait? Are there aides in the classroom that can assist the teacher see to the immediate needs of the children?
- Planned activities. What is a typical day like at the daycare facility? Find out what type of activities are planned on a daily basis. Ask if field trips are given and if so, how often. Is there a playground, gym or therapy pool on the premises?
Daycare and Special Education
For some, there is little difference between a daycare facility for disabled children and a special education facility. There are some excellent facilities that offer daycare in what appears to be more of a traditional school, with the exception of all of the students being disabled. For others, a daycare facility may simply be a place for children to be cared for during the day, without the expectation of an education due to ability level. Some facilities may care for children who are disabled up to the age of 22, due to state laws that allow disabled children more time to complete their high school education.
Due to the potentially lengthy period of time a child may spend in a daycare or a special education facility, it is important to be sure that all of a child’s needs are being met as they grow. By choosing the best daycare facility for disabled children, a parent can ensure that their child will receive the attention they need when a parent isn’t around to monitor their care, and receive instruction appropriate for their abilities.