What You Need to Know Americans with Disabilities Act - Public Accommodations Passed by Congress in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was the nation's first comprehensive civil rights law addressing the needs of people with disabilities. Most child care programs, under ADA, are considered to be places of "public accommodation" and therefore cannot exclude a child from attending their program based solely on the child's disability. The only exception to this rule is when the program is under the direct management of a religious agency (e.g., church, mosque, temple, etc.). Parents Should Know Child care providers are experienced and skilled in caring for children with a variety of needs. Most child care providers are able to care for a child with special needs. Providers cannot deny enrollment to a child with special needs by claiming their staff lacks the necessary training to care for a child with a disability. Not all child care providers may be aware of their legal responsibilities under ADA (see ADA Tip Sheet for more information). Parents may need to inform providers of their responsibilities and support them in carrying out those responsibilities. Parents may also need to help providers understand that working with a child who has a disability can be a positive and rewarding experience. Parents should become familiar with the many resources available to them. Parents can help providers by sharing the information and resources they have acquired over time, but it is ultimately the responsibility of the child care program to locate and access training opportunities that will help them to make the necessary accommodations for the child. Providers Should Know When a parent asks if a child care program accepts children with disabilities, the provider, in most cases, is required by law to answer, "Yes." (see ADA Tip Sheet for more information) Many families of children with disabilities have struggled to find quality child care; they may have even been denied care by providers in the past. For this reason, it may be difficult for them to share information. As a provider, you can help make them feel more comfortable by taking the time to listen and understand their point of view. Asking too many questions about the child's disability before accepting them into your program could be interpreted as "screening out" children with special needs. Remember to treat the family like you would any other family looking to enroll in your program. Having family involvement and support can make all the difference when learning how best to care for and include a child with special needs in your program. By being positive and working together, difficult situations can become manageable and, in time, be overcome. Children are always people first. Their unique gifts and talents should far outweigh any special need or disability they may have. Get to know the many resources that are available to you. 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.