“Supports” can be one or more things that help make a setting accessible, help a child participate in the setting’s routines and activities, or help the provider to meet a child’s specific needs. The following supports are often a part of inclusive child care:
- Parent and provider partnerships;
- Information about inclusive child care and specific disabilities;
- Being on the team: connections between child care providers and other professionals;
- Consultation, coaching or mentoring;
- Training; and
- Financial assistance
The Inclusive Child Care Program’s Open Hearts, Open Doors: Providing Inclusive Child Care (Corazones Abiertos, Puertas Abiertas in Spanish) offers information and tips about inclusive care. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for multiple or printed copies of this booklet.
Child Care Plus, at the University of Montana, has an array of publications about inclusive child care. Some are available for download, others can be purchased.
The Center for Inclusive Child Care is another good source of information. The center offers downloadable podcasts and an array of other things for providers.
For information on specific types of disabilities, the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities has fact sheets on a wide range of children’s disabilities and disorders. The center’s website also has information on special education law and other disability-related topics.
Concerned about behaviors? The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning’s “How do I Decide” series offers decision-making guidelines for early care and education providers. One of these is “When to Seek Outside Help for Children’s Problem Behaviors.”
Children and youth experiencing disabilities or other special needs often have a team of service providers. Along with parents, the team may include an Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education specialist (for children birth to 5), special education teacher (for children 6 to 22), mental health therapist, a health care provider or other professionals. A child’s team often works together on an individualized plan. The plan may focus on educational, developmental, behavioral, medical or other goals.
Are you a child care provider? If so, you can make important contributions to a child’s team and plan. You are with a child in his or her most natural environment. You see the child interact with other children, observe a range of behaviors, see changes in his or her growth and developmental, and see signs of illness or distress. This important information can contribute to setting a child’s goals and monitoring progress on an individual plan.
Other professionals on the team may help you in these ways:
- Explain how you can jointly help a child meet his or her goals in special education, early intervention, mental health, health or other plans;
- Give you strategies for responding to behaviors;
- Explain how to respond to a child’s specific medical or health issues; and
- Tell you about other helpful services and resources.
Are you a parent? You can invite your child’s provider to be a part of the team. Among other benefits, this will help with consistency in goals and approaches for your child.
More about being on the team: The Inclusive Child Care Program’s Open Hearts, Open Doors: Providing Inclusive Child Care (Corazones Abiertos, Puertas Abiertas) provides additional information and tips on partnering with a child’s team.
Consultants, coaches and mentors are individuals with knowledge and experience about inclusive child care and related topics. They may be available by phone or on-site visits. Providers can draw on their expertise to get ideas for adapting environments or equipment, behavioral strategies, or other ways to support successful inclusion.
This type of support is typically individualized to meet the needs of one provider. It can also be offered to a child care center’s or an out-of-school program’s staff group.
To find out if there is a consultation or mentoring program in your area, contact your community’s Child Care Resource and Referral Program or see the Inclusive Child Care Program information on Training and Consultation
Tip: The importance of confidentiality
Always remember that all information about a child or family is confidential. Never share anything you see or learn about a child or family with anyone unless you have specific permission. It’s best to ask parents for written permission to speak to a service provider. Most agency providers will have a “permission to exchange information” form that parents can sign.
There are many kinds of training that support inclusive child care. Some focus on inclusion values and practices. Others provide information about specific disabilities, behavioral strategies, or other topics.
The Oregon Registry Online Training Calendar offers a regularly updated list of trainings available to the state’s child care providers. Child Care Resource and Referral Programs also keep information on provider trainings in their service areas.
The Inclusive Child Care Program provides trainings in specific curricula for child care and out-of-school time settings. We may also be able to design a training specific to a child care provider’s interests and needs. Training and Consultation
Online training opportunities
The CONNECT modules are a series of brief, online video trainings. The modules cover an array of topics related to care of young children with diverse abilities and needs. CONNECT modules are made available by the Center to Mobilize Early Childhood Knowledge.
Financial assistance may be available to help providers make their programs more accessible and inclusive. For example, a small grant for program improvements could be used to make structural or playground adaptations. A community’s Child Care Resource and Referral Program and local United Way office are good places to ask about small grant opportunities for child care providers.
Individual children may be eligible for financial assistance to support accommodations in child care or to support more specialized care. See the Help with Supports and Accommodations in Child Care in this website’s What We Do section.