The Americans with Disabilities Act guarantees children with disabilities the chance to join in all of the activities in their community. This includes going to child care. However, it is important to make sure that the program you pick fits your child's specific needs.
Some things to consider when visiting programs are:
- If your child has medical needs, you should look closely at the setting. Will there always be an adult available to care for your child? Will they take the time to work with your child?
- If your child has sensory issues, make sure the environment isn't overly stimulating for him or her.
- Some children may need a smaller group to learn and grow. Others will do best with lots of children to play with.
- How will the provider communicate with you? Will you get the kind of in-depth information you're looking for every day?
- Check into the discipline policy. If your child needs a behavioral plan, is the provider willing to follow it?
- Ask about the program's rate of staff turnover. If your child requires a consistent routine or has trouble with change, you need a program with a stable staff.
If there is already a child with special needs in the program, ask to visit and observe how the child is included in activities. Bring your child in and see how he or she is accepted by the other children and the staff. The most important thing is to find a teacher who is willing to learn about your child's needs and is open to making adaptations, if necessary.
Parents of children with disabilities, and the children themselves, have certain rights under the law:
- Free public education that is appropriate for the child
- Notification if the school chooses to initiate an evaluation
- The right to initiate an evaluation of your child
- Informed Consent: (agreement in writing to the evaluation program for your child)
- The right to obtain an independent evaluation at any time
- Participation in the planning of your child's IEP (Individualized Education Program)
- The right to be informed by the school of The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Contact us to get a list of providers that have experience caring for children with various disabilities. The Suffolk County website has information about services for children with special needs. Early Help can make a difference in your child's life. Click here for Early Intervention documents and forms, including a Parent's Guide.
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