Serving Champaign, Douglas, Iroquois, Macon, Piatt and Vermilion, IL Counties
Choosing care for a child with special needs is essentially the same as choosing care for any child. In addition, you can do some things to make a better choice and to assure that the situation you choose will be supportive for you and your child. Many parents of children with special needs feel they have to settle for lower-quality care because fewer options are available to them. Now that the Americans with Disabilities Act applies, many more quality child care programs are becoming experienced in caring for children with special needs. We hope the information here helps you find the best care for your child.
Besides the regular questions and issues regarding finding quality child care, you may want to consider these points:
Many providers who are not used to caring for children with special needs may seem somewhat fearful about caring for your child. This is normal. Remember how you felt at first? A positive attitude, and interest in learning more, and a belief that all children deserve quality care with other children are the most important considerations. Here are some other questions to think about as you screen providers:
It is more important to tell the provider about your child rather than about his or her diagnosis. Disability labels such as cerebral palsy can be very scary for a child care provider who does not know what this means. Tell the provider about what your child can and cannot do. Describe any special adaptations or routines that your child needs. For example, "Mac is four and has Down's Syndrome. He can run, draw with crayons (nothing recognizable!), and sit still for a very short story. His speech is about two years behind other kids his age. He is very shy and needs extra encouragement to play with other kids. His is also just learning to go potty on his own." Tell the provider about how your child acts around other kids when you're gone.
After you decide, be available and encourage questions. Make sure you share specific information about your child to help the provider(s) understand and provide good child care. Tell them:
Child Care Resource Service has services for providers serving children with special needs available through technical assistance, training, and/or consultation and referrals to community agencies. Encourage your provider to call with any questions or concerns.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights law protecting persons with disabilities. The law protects children and adults who:
The law also protects persons who are associated with any of the individuals described above. Associated persons do not have to be relatives.
Child care programs, both family child care homes and child care centers, regardless of size and whether publicly funded or not, are considered "public accommodations" and must comply with Title III of the ADA.
Child care programs operated by state or local governments, school districts or park and recreation departments, must comply with Title II of the ADA.
Child care programs operated by religious organizations are not required to comply with Title II of the ADA but they may need to comply with state anti-discrimination laws.
You will need to check with your state Attorney General's office to find out more about any laws in your state protecting individuals with disabilities.
While CCLC does not provide direct representation in disputes between parents and providers regarding ADA compliance, the Center can provide general information and technical assistance in understanding the law's requirements to both groups. Individuals may either call (415) 495-5498 during our service hours, 9:00 a.m. PST until noon on Tuesdays or Thrusdays, or write to us at:
Child Care Law Center
22 Second Street, 5th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105
Additionally, the Child Care Law Center has two more detailed publications for parents:
Each available for $5 plus $2 shipping and handling.
The Law Center also has three comprehensive publications for child care providers:
Each available for $10 plus $3 shipping and handling. The Child Care Law Center also has other low cost information available, including basic information about the ADA in languages orther than English. Contact us at (415) 495-5498 for further information.
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF)
(800) 466-4ADA (voice and TDD)
(800) 433-5255 (voice)
(817) 277-0553 (TDD)
United States Department of Justice
(800) 514-0301 (voice)
(800) 514-0381 (TDD)