Children with Diverse Abilities

“Early childhood inclusion embodies the values, policies, and practices that support the right of every infant and young child and his or her family, regardless of ability, to participate in a broad range of activities and contexts as full members of families, communities and society.”
-Early Childhood Inclusion Position Statement, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and Division for Early Childhood (DEC)

Children with diverse abilities have unique and important care requirements. It is important for families and providers to communicate about the unique needs of a child to ensure the best care possible. IdahoSTARS supports the right of young child and her or his family to participate in a broad range of activities and settings. We hope that children with and without disabilities and their families have a sense of belonging and membership, positive social relationships and friendships, and development and learning to reach their full potential.

How Do I Find an Inclusive Child Care Program?

Although there are some child care programs that specialize in caring for children with disabilities or other diverse needs, most are not specialized. When looking for child care, consider the following tips:

  • Ask to see a current license. Find out if the staff has been screened for child abuse/neglect.
  • Ask if the program has a philosophy or mission statement related to including children with diverse needs and abilities.
  • Ask about the teacher’s or family child care provider’s education and experience. Does it include disability specific training, or training on meeting the individual needs of children?
  • Ask about eligibility criteria. Does eligibility criteria allow for enrollment of children with disabilities or developmental delays?
  • Ask if the program is willing to collaborate with your family and any specialists your family may be working with related to your child’s growth and learning.
  • Observe the child care provider’s interactions with the children in the program. Does she or he seem warm, friendly, patient, and involved?
  • Look at the children in the program. Are all the children participating in classroom activities? Do they seem happy?
  • Ask about the number of caregivers in the program. Are there enough adults to adequately care for the children enrolled?

How Do I Talk to My Own or Potential Caregivers?

  • Speak clearly about your child’s strengths and unique qualities.
  • Tell the child care staff about your child’s routine, likes, dislikes, and what makes him or her happy or sad.
  • Be honest about what your child needs, including any special assistance or equipment.
  • Be willing to help your child care program solve problems that might arise.
  • Remember that you know your child better than anyone else. Stand up for your child's rights and trust your knowledge and ability to share what you have learned about your child.

What if a Program Doesn't Want to Take My Child Because of His or Her Need?

With any child care facility, a good “fit” is important. You want to find someone you can trust and with whom you can develop a good working relationship. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) considers child care facilities to be public accommodations and requires them to address the needs of people with disabilities, just like theaters and restaurants. This requirement means that children with disabilities cannot be excluded from a program solely because of a disability.

Under the ADA, child care programs are required to make reasonable accommodations to address the needs of individuals with disabilities. Imagination, a positive attitude, and a child-centered approach can usually produce creative and achievable accommodations.

How Will Other Children React to a Child with Diverse Needs and Abilities?

Young children are very accepting. When they see adults who are warm and accepting, they will display warmth and acceptance. Rejection of children with diverse needs and abilities is unusual. In fact, one of the benefits of inclusive child care is increased sensitivity toward individual differences.

Resources

Commonly Asked Questions about Child Care Centers and Americans with Disabilites Act.

AIM Early Idaho supports a system of care which helps families ensure the social and emotional well being of their infants and young children.