Asking Questions and Sharing Information When Parent's and Provider's Work Together... Children Grow! Asking Questions Looking for child care can be an emotional process for parents, but if your child has special needs, this process can quickly become overwhelming. Questions parents are thinking.. 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? Will they be able to care for them like I do? 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 than any other parent looking for someone to care for their child. Therefore the questions you ask shouldn't be any different. Questions parents should ask.. 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? Parent's aren't the only ones with questions. A provider has certain things that they need to ask before enrolling you in their program. Questions providers should ask.. Has your child attended a child care before? How long do you expect to be needing child care? Does your child have any known allergies? What is your child's sleep or nap schedule? Are you able to pick up your child in case of an accident or emergency? What are some of the things your child is interested in? Hopefully you noticed that there are no questions asking the family if their child has a disability or special need. At this point in time, asking that type of question, even if you have the best of intentions, could be interpreted as discriminatory. It's difficult to know if a question like that is to help a provider gain information for how best to support the child or if it might be to gain information that is used to deny that family enrollment. It's for this reason that it's so important to take the time, especially early on, to build a trusting relationship with families. This simple act could be the deciding factor that helps a parent feel comfortable enough to share, what is likely, very personal information with you. Sharing Information For parents, deciding to share information about their child's special needs is a huge step, but knowing what and how much to share can be an even bigger one. The first thing to keep in mind is that providers generally want what is best for your child. It is understandable to be tentative when sharing information with someone that you just met, but think of it this way: How effective would you be at putting together a puzzle if you were only given some of the pieces? With that idea in mind, what information or details about your child would allow the provider to be successful when caring for your child? Every child will have a mixture of things that they are great at and enjoy doing and those things they are still learning or may find difficult, so when it comes to talking about your child make sure you paint a full picture of them. Information a Parent Should Share.. Let them know about the many things your child likes to do: What are his or her strengths? What are his or her 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 information about your child's specific disability: How might it impact the way they learn or do certain things? *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.