The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects individuals with disabilities and requires that every effort be made to reasonably accommodate disabilities. Child care providers are expected to modify their basic policies, practices and procedures to make reasonable accommodation to include children with disabilities in their programs. In most cases, such accommodation is compatible with a safe and healthy environment from which all the children in the child care setting can benefit.
Child care providers must offer services in the most natural setting appropriate to the needs of the individual. In addition to making physical changes such as installing ramps, wide doors and restrooms that can accommodate children in wheelchairs, you may need to provide for a child’s special physical, emotional or psychological needs. Other special needs may include assistance in feeding, following special dietary requirements, giving medicines and/or performing medical procedures, and ensuring that special equipment is functional or is used properly. There is help available through many different programs to assist providers in properly caring for children with special needs.
Before admitting a child with developmental disabilities to Country Fun Child Care, the following questions need to be considered and answered:
- Does the child’s disability require more care than Country Fun Child Care be reasonably able to provide?
- Do provider and supervising staff have the skills and abilities needed to perform medical or other duties required for the child’s care, or can the necessary skills be readily acquire?
- Is Country Fun Child Care equipped to meet the health and safety needs of this child?
- Is the extra time provider/supervising staff will need to devote to taking care of this child more than can be handled without putting the other children in care at increased risk for illness or injury, or without causing neglect of their needs?
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that as a provider responsible for all the children in care, I need to ensure that the extra demands on time to care for a child with special needs are supported with additional resources, including help from experts. There will also need to be a strong working relationship with the child’s parents/legal guardians.