Choosing Child Care for Kids with Special Needs
Better Beginnings, a program of the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS), connects Arkansas families with information and care that helps their children experience a safe, happy, healthy childhood. The program is designed to improve the level of quality in child care and early childhood education programs across the state. It can also aide in helping parents of children with special needs find child care that fits their needs.
Better Beginnings works with participating licensed child care and early childhood education facilities to ensure children receive quality learning opportunities as early as possible. The program works with child care and early childhood education providers to train their staff to build a better learning environment. Program administrators developed a one-, two- and three-star rating system to certify child care and early childhood education providers. Once a provider is certified, this rating is posted online for families to use when choosing a child care and early childhood education facility.
The Better Beginnings website—ARBetterBeginnings.com—provides the resources that families need to find a child care and early childhood education facility that meets their child’s unique needs. It’s important to understand the needs of a family and child to find the type of facility that would fit their needs when looking for care. To begin the search for child care and early childhood education in a community, families can use the Find Child Care feature on ARBetterBeginnings.com. This allows families to find care according to their unique needs and the feature can be specific to any ZIP code in Arkansas.
The Choosing Child Care Checklist is another online tool available to families. The checklist is an interactive guide for child care and early childhood education search. It guides families through tours of facilities, allowing for a checklist to be created for each facility visited during the search. The interactive checklist can be used on a smartphone and saved once completed. This puts the power in the hands of families as they choose the best place for their child.
For children who need a little extra care, ask yourself these questions when searching for a child care provider:
• Is the child care program close to my work or home?
• Is there a system in place to record medication, special feedings and additional procedures?
• Does this caregiver have experience and special training to meet my child’s needs?
• Will there be an opportunity to communicate regularly about my child's development and any concerns that may arise?
• How many children does each caregiver have in a classroom?
• Are the caregivers trained in CPR and first aid?
• Is the facility accessible and safe for my child, and can it accommodate their necessary equipment?
• Are activities modified to my child’s needs and abilities?