Getting Started Positive Beginnings! It's so important that all kids, especially those with special needs, be given the opportunity to learn and develop in a positive environment and it's up to the adults in their life to make that happen. Research shows that when the adults in a child's life practice cooperative and supportive relationships, it directly impacts the child's emotional, physical and intellectual development. For this reason, it's imperative that parents and providers work and partner together for the success of the child. Policy Statement on Family Engagement: From the Early Years to the Early Grades What can a family do? Your child care provider is effective to the degree that you are willing to share useful information. Share information about any adaptations or techniques you use at home or in the community to include your child in day-to-day activities. Provide the program with clearly written instructions for how to use any equipment, effectively make adaptations, and how best to support your child's needs. If necessary, offer to demonstrate how to use and adjust any equipment that will be left with the program. Helping the provider to feel comfortable using a new device or adaptation can help to ensure that the support is used throughout your child's day. Work with the provider to brainstorm ideas for how best to imbed any special practices or equipment your child may require into the existing class routines. If possible, plan your schedule so that during your child's first days in their new program, you can spend a little extra time on-site helping him or her get used to their new surroundings, as well as to help the providers get to know your child. Find out what help and support may be available to you or the child care provider through programs such as Birth to 3, the local school district, Head Start and other agencies. Ask your child care provider, "Do you have any questions about my child and/or their disability?" Sharing positive information, support, and resources can make a huge difference for your child and the program they attend. What can a provider do? You are most effective when you work in partnership with the child's family and with other professionals who support and work with the child. Welcome family members and invite them to spend time on-site while the child gets used to his or her new surroundings. This will also allow you to get to know the child and become familiar with their special needs. Take the time to help the child feel welcome on their first day in your program (e.g., introduce them to peers, have any special equipment or accommodations prepared and ready to go, help to answer any questions peers may have about their new friend, etc.) Ask the family and specialists for clear, written information about special techniques or equipment required for the child's care. Make sure to ask questions if you are unsure of how to use any of the child's accommodations or supports. Make time to meet with specialists (e.g., physical, occupational and/or speech therapists, staff from Birth to 3, Head Start and/or the local school district, etc.) that work with and support the child's special needs. Gather usable information from the family so that you better understand how best to motivate, comfort, and support their child. Make sure that contact information for the parents is up to date in case any questions arise. Share relevant information about their day with the parents, remembering to be honest, but kind. Keep in mind that all parents like to hear things that their child is doing well. If you have questions or concerns about a child's development (physical, social-emotional, or cognitive), contact: Wisconsin First Step Information and Referral Hotline at 1-800-642-STEP (7837). Information about Early Identification/Screening and Child Find can be found at the Collaborating Partners website.