Want to find the best daycare for a child with special needs? Guest blogger Alex Robbins offers his tips about this important subject today. Please join me in welcoming Alex as a first time Different Dream guest blogger!
How to Find the Best Daycare for a Child with Special Needs
Finding the right daycare or camp for your child is one of the most important things you’ll do, but it can be a stressful undertaking. Knowing that your choice will decide what kind of care your child receives can be a little overwhelming, because we all want the best for our children with special needs and those developing typically. Safety, learning, growing, and being taken care of emotionally are the biggest needs your child has, and when you can’t be there, it’s important to know that someone else is meeting those needs.
Before committing to a daycare, it’s important to take a tour and speak to the director extensively about the facility, how the caregivers are trained, what rules they might have, and what sort of care you can expect for your child. Ask about safety training and state guidelines, such as the ratio of children to teachers.
Here are a few of the best things to look for on a tour.
Overcrowding can be a big issue for some daycares, and that means there will always be some kids who are overlooked. One teacher can’t be everywhere at once, and this becomes a safety issue. Look into classrooms to see how full they are and observe the teacher; is she paying close attention to the children? Are they engaged with her in singing or reading, or are they running wild in the classroom? Are accommodations made for children with different learning styles and those with special needs? Keep an eye out for phones, as well; many daycares have guidelines regarding whether a teacher can have a cell phone out in the classroom, as it’s a distraction.
Take a look at the environment to make sure it’s a stimulating one. Are there plenty of books, games, and toys? Learning stations in older classrooms? Bright colors on the walls? Are all areas accessible to children with limited mobility? All children need to be challenged and given the opportunity to thrive and explore.
Safety is a top priority where daycares are concerned. Pay special attention to the way classrooms are set up; are there children climbing on bookshelves? Is the entire room open so the teacher can see into every corner? Are safety precautions such as fire extinguishers and alarms easy to access? Health concerns might include making sure caregivers wear gloves to serve food and change diapers and, if there’s an infant room, peek in to see what the setup is like. In most states, infants should be in their own room without older children around, and ideally, you should see a caregiver holding one, singing, or providing some sort of stimulation. If you are the parent of a child with special needs, there are additional safety concerns that should be met. Such as are play areas easily accessible for your child or are safety precautions in place that consider your child’s special needs? And is the facility equipped to help your child in the event of an emergency?
If possible, stop by unannounced for a tour rather than setting up an appointment. This allows you to see what the teachers and director are like when they are unprepared for a visitor, and you can take a look at the rooms as they are when no one is looking.
Consider taking a walk around the premises, as well. Are there alarms on the doors? Is the playground equipment accessible, safe and in good condition? You might also ask what the facility’s fire safety measures are and what the protocol is during an emergency.
By taking all of these specifics into account, you will have a clearer view of whether the daycare or camp is the right place for your child.
Writer Alex Robbins is part of the Safety Today team, and loves having the opportunity to promote home and community safety through his writing.
Your Best Tips?
What are your best tips for finding a daycare for a child with special needs? Add them in the comment box.
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