Choosing childcare

Choosing childcare that suits your child’s specific needs can feel overwhelming. Whatever your circumstances, the following information can help you figure out what you should be thinking about with your partner when you start looking at childcare options. 

To learn more about where to find childcare for disabled children, how to pay for it, and how you can qualify for free childcare places, visit Contact’s website. There is also have information on your legal rights to childcare, what to do if a childcare setting is not inclusive, and what to do if you’re refused your chosen childcare place.

How to choose a childcare setting


Childcare settings can provide valuable early education, including the social skills that come from forming positive relationships with other children and adults. This positive real-world experience can help your child to be better prepared for the wider world, whatever their specific needs.

When choosing between available childcare options, your decision may be largely instinctive – most parents are drawn to caregivers who seem warm and friendly [1]. This makes sense, given that they are going to be looking after your child. You could also consider the caregiver’s education and the type of curriculum they offer [1].

As you look for a childcare provider who can meet your child’s unique needs and abilities, consider the following questions:

  • Will your child be given the freedom to explore new experiences?
  • Will their curiosity be encouraged?
  • Will they be provided with choices that support their learning and development? [2].
  • Does the provider have the appropriate training to take your child? Consider things like Makaton language, health and safety, dealing with medication and equipment, and disability awareness training.
     

As well as finding a childcare provider who offers the best education and support for your child, you will need to find something that fits your family’s schedule [3]. You and your partner will need to agree on what days and times you need the childcare, what you can afford, who works on what days, and how you will drop off and pick up your child. Be prepared to make a bit of a trade-off between your ideal setting and what you can realistically choose.

Making decisions together 


When you’re making these vital decisions, it’s important to respect each other’s views so you can come to a decision that feels right for both of you. Arguments often happen because we stop listening to each other. If, during an important conversation, you find your thoughts drifting towards what you want to say next, and how to get your own point of view across, you may need to practise your listening skills.

Good listening is about taking the time to understand where someone is coming from. If you don’t take the time to listen, your partner won’t feel heard and tension can escalate quickly. Under these circumstances, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to listen to you in return and the conversation will go nowhere. 

You might find it helpful to draw up a list of pros and cons for each situation you’re considering so you can weigh these up against each other’s personal preferences, and reach a decision that feels logical and fair.

What if you disagree?


You won’t agree on everything all of the time. If you feel tensions rising, there are ways you can diffuse the situation. It can be hard put yourself in someone else’s shoes during a disagreement because it requires you to step outside of yourself and all your own feelings for a moment. But, if you manage to pull it off, you can often see why your partner’s view makes sense to them, even if it doesn’t make sense to you. 

Sometimes you might just need to agree to take some time on your own and pick the conversation up again when you both feel a bit calmer. This can help you to see each other’s viewpoints, which can make your discussions more effective and constructive.

Getting the right place 


Parents say they often have to be creative and flexible in their approach to finding childcare for their disabled child. It can involve negotiations with local providers that they may not otherwise have had to make. For more information about the law and childcare, including template letters for childcare and funding providers, see Contact.

“As Lillie-Mae’s needs increased as she got older, it was mutually agreed between the nursery management and myself that they should apply for top-up finding from the local council to provide one-to-one care services for my daughter”.
“My son needs to be fed through a gastrostomy tube so when he started at nursery the staff all received the relevant training from a local community nurse. As a result, I have full confidence in their ability to provide safe and good quality childcare for him”. 
“I managed to find a local nursery that was wheelchair accessible and offered one-to-one care, 35 hours a week at no additional cost. This was all funded by the local council”.
“I currently pay for a full-time nanny for my children rather than take up the government’s offer of free childcare per week due to a lack of suitable facilities in my local area”.
 References

[1] Rose, K. K., & Elicker, J. (2008). Parental decision making about child care. Journal of Family Issues, 29(9), 1161-1184.

[2] Gamble, W., Ewing, C., & Wilhlem, A. (2009). Parental Perceptions of Characteristics of Non-Parental Child Care: Belief Dimensions, Family and Child Correlates. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 18(1), 70-82. 

[3] Rose, K., Johnson, A., Muro, J., & Buckley, R. (2016). Decision Making About Nonparental Child Care by Fathers: What Is Important to Fathers in a Nonparental Child Care Program. Journal of Family Issues, 1-29.

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