Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 1: Staffing

1.4 Professional Development/Training

1.4.2 Orientation Training Orientation for Care of Children with Special Health Care Needs

When a child care facility enrolls a child with special health care needs, the facility should ensure that all staff members have been oriented in understanding that child’s special health care needs and have the skills to work with that child in a group setting.

Caregivers/teachers in small family child care homes, who care for a child with special health care needs, should meet with the parents/guardians and meet or speak with the child’s primary care provider (if the parent/guardian has provided prior, informed, written consent) or a child care health consultant to ensure that the child’s special health care needs will be met in child care and to learn how these needs may affect his/her developmental progression or play with other children.

In addition to Orientation Training, Standard, the orientation provided to staff in child care facilities should be based on the special health care needs of children who will be assigned to their care. All staff oriented for care of children with special health needs should be knowledgeable about the care plans created by the child’s primary care provider in their medical home as well as any care plans created by other health professionals and therapists involved in the child’s care. A template for a care plan for children with special health care needs can be found in Appendix O. Child care health consultants can be an excellent resource for providing health and safety orientation or referrals to resources for such training. This training may include, but is not limited to, the following topics:

  1. Positioning for feeding and handling, and risks for injury for children with physical/mental disabilities;
  2. Toileting techniques;
  3. Knowledge of special treatments or therapies (e.g., PT, OT, speech, nutrition/diet therapies, emotional support and behavioral therapies, medication administration, etc.) the child may need/receive in the child care setting;
  4. Proper use and care of the individual child’s adaptive equipment, including how to recognize defective equipment and to notify parents/guardians that repairs are needed;
  5. How different disabilities affect the child’s ability to participate in group activities;
  6. Methods of helping the child with special health care needs or behavior problems to participate in the facility’s programs, including physical activity programs;
  7. Role modeling, peer socialization, and interaction;
  8. Behavior modification techniques, positive behavioral supports for children, promotion of self-esteem, and other techniques for managing behavior;
  9. Grouping of children by skill levels, taking into account the child’s age and developmental level;
  10. Health services or medical intervention for children with special health care problems;
  11. Communication methods and needs of the child;
  12. Dietary specifications for children who need to avoid specific foods or for children who have their diet modified to maintain their health, including support for continuation of breastfeeding;
  13. Medication administration (for emergencies or on an ongoing basis);
  14. Recognizing signs and symptoms of impending illness or change in health status;
  15. Recognizing signs and symptoms of injury;
  16. Understanding temperament and how individual behavioral differences affect a child’s adaptive skills, motivation, and energy;
  17. Potential hazards of which staff should be aware;
  18. Collaborating with families and outside service providers to create a health, developmental, and behavioral care plan for children with special needs;
  19. Awareness of when to ask for medical advice and recommendations for non-emergent issues that arise in school (e.g., head lice, worms, diarrhea);
  20. Knowledge of professionals with skills in various conditions, e.g., total communication for children with deafness, beginning orientation and mobility training for children with blindness (including arranging the physical environment effectively for such children), language promotion for children with hearing-impairment and language delay/disorder, etc.;
  21. How to work with parents/guardians and other professionals when assistive devices or medications are not consistently brought to the child care program or school;
  22. How to safely transport a child with special health care needs.
A basic understanding of developmental disabilities and special care requirements of any child in care is a fundamental part of any orientation for new employees. Training is an essential component to ensure that staff members develop and maintain the needed skills. A comprehensive curriculum is required to ensure quality services. However, lack of specialized training for staff does not constitute grounds for exclusion of children with disabilities (1).

Staff members need information about how to help children use and maintain adaptive equipment properly. Staff members need to understand how and why various items are used and how to check for malfunctions. If a problem occurs with adaptive equipment, the staff must recognize the problem and inform the parent/guardian so that the parent/guardian can notify the health care or equipment provider of the problem and request that it be remedied. While the parent/guardian is responsible for arranging for correction of equipment problems, child care staff must be able to observe and report the problem to the parent/guardian. Routine care of adaptive and treatment equipment, such as nebulizers, should be taught.

These training topics are generally applicable to all personnel serving children with special health care needs and apply to child care facilities. The curriculum may vary depending on the type of facility, classifications of disabilities of the children in the facility, and ages of the children. The staff is assumed to have the training described in Orientation Training, Standard, including child growth and development. These additional topics will extend their basic knowledge and skills to help them work more effectively with children who have special health care needs and their families. The number of hours offered in any in-service training program should be determined by the staff’s experience and professional background. Service plans in small family child care homes may require a modified implementation plan.

The parent/guardian is responsible for solving equipment problems. The parent/guardian can request that the child care facility remedy the problem directly if the caregiver/teacher has been trained on the maintenance and repair of the equipment and if the staff agrees to do it.

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Initial Orientation of All Staff Care Plan for Children with Special Health Care Needs Training Record
Appendix O: Care Plan for Children with Special Health Care Needs
  1. U.S. Department of Justice. 2011. Americans with Disabilities Act.