Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 8: Children with Special Health Care Needs and Disabilities

8.2 Inclusion of Children with Special Needs in the Child Care Setting

8.2.0 Planning for Inclusion

Inclusion and participation of children with special health care needs requires proactive planning. The facility must plan for the resources, support, and education necessary to increase the understanding and knowledge of staff, but also of parents/guardians, and the children without disabilities within the facility. Planning to include children with disabilities and with special health care needs requires time, resources, support and education. Every effort should be made to plan fully to include children with disabilities and children with special health care needs to maximize success. In planning for the inclusion of children with disabilities and children with special health care needs, safety considerations should be an additional factor considered.
Inclusion without adequate preparation, understanding, training, mobilization of resources, and development of skills among all those involved, may lead to failure.
Available resources include, but are not limited to: brochures, books, guest speakers, advice from parents/guardians of children with special health care needs, expert consultation from child care health consultants, and utilization of child care health consultants. Methods may vary according to need and availability and, specific to educating children without disabilities in the facility, using age-appropriate resources is particularly important. Communication between child care, parents/guardians, and primary care providers (with written parental/guardian permission) helps facilitate a smooth inclusion process. The facility should provide opportunities to discuss the similarities as well as the differences among all the children enrolled. Professionals or knowledgeable parents/guardians who facilitate such discussions should assure that caregivers and typically developing children in the facility receive presentations and participate in discussions about the special equipment that the children with special needs may require, and that they understand other differences, such as a prescribed diet or limitations of activity. Children without disabilities or special health care needs should be given the opportunity to explore and learn about these differences. Caregivers/teachers should take special care to demonstrate cultural competency, confidentiality, respect for privacy, and be generally sensitive in all communications with parents/guardians and when discussing the child and the family, particularly in discussion of an inherited condition.
Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home