Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 8: Children with Special Health Care Needs and Disabilities

8.7 Assessment of Facilities for Children with Special Needs

8.7.0 Facility Self-Assessment

Facilities that serve children with special health care needs and children with disabilities eligible for services under IDEA 2004 should have a written self-assessment developed in consultation with an expert multi-disciplinary team of professionals experienced in the care and education of children with disabilities and children with special health care needs. These self-assessments should be used to create a plan for the facility to determine how it may become more accessible and ready to care for children with disabilities and children with special health care needs. The facility should review and update the plan at least every two years, unless a caregiver requests a revision at an earlier date.
A self-assessment stimulates thought about the caregiver’s/teacher’s present capabilities and attitudes and the medical and educational particulars of a range of special health care needs and disabilities. Also, parents/guardians will have the opportunity to review the records of the written self-assessment and decide whether a facility is well-prepared to handle children with, for example, developmental delays, cognitive disabilities, or hearing impairment but is not able to offer proper care to a child with more complex medical needs.
Under both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a program must make reasonable accommodations in order to serve a child with disabilities and/or special health care needs. Often, if architectural or other major changes are made to accommodate a particular child with physical or other disability, many other children and adults are helped by the changes. An important source of information for self-assessment is interviewing the parents/guardians of children with disabilities and/or special health care needs to see how well the program is working for their family and what could be improved. “Reasonableness” is a legal standard that looks at cost and other ADA criteria. Section 504 applies to recipients of federal funds. The ADA extends coverage to private entities that do not receive federal funds.

Parents/guardians have the right to choose which child care program will care for their child. Self-assessment should be done to evaluate what the program needs to do to be more inclusive by developing staff capability and program activities to accommodate the child’s needs.

SpeciaLink: The National Centre for Child Care Inclusion, at the University of Winnipeg ( has developed an inclusion scale much like ECERS to determine how well a program is providing inclusive care.

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home