This week’s guest contributor: finding the right childcare center for your child’s needs


Hi friends. I am so excited about this weeks guess contributor to “Square Peg in a Round Hole.” She is an expert in the childcare field, and has many years of experience under her belt. She is a mother of two beautiful little boys, a wife, a sister, and a dear, dear, friend. Please allow me to introduce to you Ms. Kay B. I met Kay a little over three years ago where she took on an assistant director position at the daycare where my son Willy attended. She made so many positive changes to the atmosphere, the staff, and everything else, that it was almost impossible to not fall madly in love with her. Kay made it her business to spend time with each and every child under her care and supervision, and always had sweet little anecdotal stories for me when I picked my boy up every day after work. One day, after a particularly rough one (meeting after meeting), I went to pick up Willy, and Kay came right over to me and said “do you know how smart your little guy is?” And then proceeded to tell me all about their adventures together. She has also been the barer of bad news at times, but I never batted an eyelash because I knew that my boy was in incredible hands, and I was so thankful for her.

I asked Kay if she wanted to share some of her knowledge about childcare centers, and finding the right one for children with needs, and she immediately jumped at the opportunity (like I knew she would). So please enjoy her article and feel free to comment as you see fit. I will pass on all of your likes and comments to her, and any questions that you may have, so she can get back to you in a timely manner. Enjoy.

Finding childcare isn’t easy for any parent. Finding a childcare center for a child, who may have a disability; physical or mental, is even harder.
In today’s busy world many families find themselves now needing two incomes. This leaves the overwhelming dissection of “where do I send my child while I’m at work?” Finding the right childcare center doesn’t need to be overwhelming if the parent knows what they are looking for and what their over all expectations are.
Many centers are geared to the “typically developed” child. However, knowing the laws, asking the right questions, and being honest about a child’s needs can help find a center where their child will fit right in.
Many states and countries have a department that handles and license’s childcare centers. KNOW THESE LAWS! These laws will offer parents all the insight they need and will help them to know what a childcare center has to offer the family. Parents will be amazed that many states require the center to offer families and children with special need special accommodations. With a simple Internet search, they can find out who license’s childcare centers. Parents should give them a call and the licensing center will be happy to send out the regulations to the parents home or tell where they can find these laws. Sometimes its as easy as jumping onto their website!
Asking the right questions will help eliminate the center that isn’t right for a child. Whether the child has ADD, ADHD, Autism or any other special need or disorder, asking about ratios is super important. Asking how many children there are per teacher will allow the parents to know if that center is a right fit off the bat. Many children cannot handle the large number of students per very few teachers. Finding a center that has more teachers per students will allow the child to have the special attention needed. Ask the center what they can offer a child and their needs. Ask if they have extra staff to come into the classroom if the child needs some one on one time or extra help during projects and activates. Also, ask about the routine. Many center have very strict routines to keep the child safe and to keep things going smoothly. If a child cannot handle a strict schedule, ask the school about their flexibility.
Not many parents like to talk about the needs of their child with people they do not know. However, these childcare workers spend sometimes upward of 50 hours a week with a child. Not being honest is one of the biggest mistakes when it comes to finding a childcare center. I have been in the childcare field over 15-years and when I ask parents what they are looking for and what are some accommodations their child will need, I often hear “nothing, my child is fine.” With-in days and weeks of knowing the child, we find out that the parents were not honest or didn’t want to tell us what their child needs. Most of the time they just don’t want to make the center worried before their child starts or to have the center “judge” their child before knowing him/her. Being honest allows the center to come up with a plan that both the center and the parents are happy with. This is also a great time for the center to know who would be coming in to work with a child or the center can offer parents recourses to help the child adjust to the new setting. Being honest will keep the parents from getting bad reports, many meetings, and possible terminations.
Picking the right place is never easy. Some families are not sure if they should pick a large childcare center or a home center. Some even wonder about a nanny or maybe a family member. Finding the right fit is all about those steps of knowing the laws, asking the right questions, and being honest. Home daycares have their benefits of a smaller setting, however there is often only one staff member. With a larger childcare center, there are a large number of students with sometimes low teacher rates. A nanny can offer a child one on one all the time, and could allow the child to attend therapies and small playgroups but could get costly and a family member is always there for you, but socialization with someone outside the family is the best option.
That right fit is out there, keep looking and keep an open minded. A family may need to find a center geared towards the child’s specific need, and that’s okay! It’s okay for a child to be in a center geared to them. It will keep them happy, and will give them those tools to grow.

To find out who licenses childcare centers or for financial assistance in your state or country, please visit your local government website. For Massachusetts it is http://www.mass.gov/EEC

If you were looking for a childcare center anywhere in the world you can do a simple Google search of childcare centers near you, or try your website like http://www.childcareaware.org

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Kay and her son Noah, enjoying some mother-son time.

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