Asking Questions and Sharing Information When Parent's and Provider's Work Together - Children Grow! Looking for child care can be an emotional process for parents, but if your child has special needs, this process can quickly become overwhelming. Will they like my child? What should I tell them about my child? Will they see my child for more than just their disability? Will they give my child a chance? Faced with these questions, how does a parent begin the conversation with a potential new provider? The first thing to remember is that you are no different from any other parent looking for someone to care for their child and the questions you ask shouldn’t be either. Think about what you need to know about the program. What are the hours of the program? Is there currently an opening? What are the provider’s qualifications and training experiences? What’s the adult-to-child ratio? What is the schedule of a typical day? What is their discipline policy? It’s also important to keep in mind that providers generally want what is best for your child. Going into a situation with a positive attitude can go a long way in easing the anxiety you may be feeling. As mentioned above, parents sometimes find it hard to know what, if anything, to share about their child’s disability. Knowing the emotions that a parent may be feeling, this is understandable, but this decision brings with it a number of consequences that may affect you and your child down the road. Think about it this way, do you really want the relationship with the person who might take care of your child to begin in this way? By withholding information about your child's needs, you are assuming that the provider isn't willing to work with or support your child. Also, if a provider doesn't know about your child's needs, they won't be prepared for them once they begin attending. This can result in your child being unsuccessful in this new setting. Instead, when it comes time to talk about your child make sure you paint a full picture of them. On top of those things your child is still learning or that may cause them difficulty, it is just as important that the provider be made aware of the wonderful set of ABILITIES that your child has. Let them know about the many things your child likes to do; what his or her strengths are; their favorite activities or toys Explain some of the things your child is still working on: How do they respond to change? Do they like to play alone or with others? How do they let someone know they need help? What kinds of situations do they find stressful or upsetting? If you’re comfortable, share some of the basic information about your child's disability and how it may impact the way they learn or do certain things Be positive about the wonderful characteristics that make your child the unique and amazing person that they are. This is how we should see every child. *A Thinking Guide to Inclusive Childcare - Mark Sweet 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.