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Finding a safe, good quality day care is a top priority for any parent, especially for a parent with a child on the autism spectrum. When selecting a day care provider for your child, it is important that they understand your child’s interests, strengths, and challenges. Children on the autism spectrum have their own individual needs that must be met by a qualified childcare provider. By keeping your child’s individual needs in mind while interviewing providers and touring facilities, you can find childcare where both you and your child are comfortable.
Questions To Ask:
• What experience do you have working with children on the autism spectrum?
• What is the caregiver to child ratio? Will there be enough childcare providers to give your child the care he/she needs?
• How much staff turnover has there been in the past year? What is the average tenure of the staff?
• What are your minimum requirements when hiring caregivers for your facility? Note: Caregivers with degrees and/or special training in working with children will be better equipped to work with your child.
• Are caregivers involved in activities to improve their skills such as classes or workshops?
• What type of background checks are done on staff? Likewise, if you choose an in-home daycare, ask the provider if there will be other family members around the children. If yes, who? What is their background?
• What is the daily schedule or routine?
• Describe organized activities you provide for children.
• If my child needs time alone to decompress how will that be handled?
• Do you develop individual goals for each child?
• Describe how you discipline.
• Describe feedback I will receive about my child at the end of the day.
• How do you handle emergencies?
• Can parents “drop in” for a visit? (Note: If the provider says, “No”, this is a red flag. You should be able to drop in unannounced at any time.)
• How do you handle toilet training?
• Do you accommodate special diets (if your child has food allergies)?
Things To Consider:
• If your child has sensory issues, take into account the lighting, noise, etc. Are the rooms appealing yet not over stimulating?
• What is the overall attitude of the adults working with the children? Are they attentive with a positive attitude or do they appear overwhelmed?
• When touring the facility, do you notice a variety of developmental activities taking place?1,2
1 ChildCareAware® Americas most trusted child care resource, “5 Steps To Choosing Quality Child Care,” n.d. http://www.childcareaware.org/en/child_care_101/5steps.php (19 December 2008) 2 University of Rhode Island, “Child Care Questions,” n.d. http://www.uri.edu/advance/work_life_support/child_care_questions.html (19 December 2008)