ADA/Special Needs Care

Child care is an important part of your child's day and a critical support to your family. Every child has a right to be included in child care. The Americans with Disabilites Act protects this right.

As you search for care for your child with special needs, it's important to remember the unique gifts your child will bring to her care program. All children benefit when they attend a program committed to celebrating individual strengths and working witth specific challenges. Use the following information and questions as you consider your care options.

Relationships matter.

Both you and your child need to create a connection with your new child care provider. Your child's comfort with his caregiver will help him develop social skills and make friends.

  • Are you comfortable discussing your child's special needs and individual likes and dislikes with the caregiver? It's okay to hold this discussion until you feel comfortable with a caregiver and think their program would be a good one for your child. When you do open up, remember child care professionals are better able to do their job with a complete picture of your child.
  • Is the caregiver warm and welcoming to each child?
  • Does she listen to each child when they have an idea to share or need help?
  • Are the children encouraged to help each other?
  • Are all children included in group activities?
  • Will the caregiver communicate with you and work closely with you to ensure your child is doing well each day?

Child care can work for each child.

Children are successful when a care program is tailored to meet their developmental needs.

  • Does the program offer predictable routines, group activities and free time?
  • Has the program partnered with other agencies to meet a child's individual needs? Has this worked well?
  • Are all areas of the program accessible to your child?
  • Is the caregiver willing to be flexible with her expectations and routine in ways that will help your child?
  • Will the group size work for your child? Your child's needs may be more easily met in a smaller group for part or all of the day.

Child care professionals need training and understanding.

Caring for children is demanding work that requires special knowledge and skills.

  • Does the child care provider have experience working with children with special needs?
  • Has she taken or is she willing to take training in the area of special needs?

Transitions are temporary.

Your child may take a few weeks or months to settle in to his new care setting. This is perfectly natural, though it can be stressful to manage. Don't give up!

  • Does your caregiver understand your child's feelings about change and transition?
  • Does she have a plan in place to manage any challenging behavior during this time and to help your child become more comfortable?

Minnesota Resources

There are courses available on the ADA!
The Center for Inclusive Child Care offers
self-study courses.
Eager-to-Learn offers an extensive,
in-depth course.

Center for Inclusive Child Care
Concordia University, College of Education
275 N. Syndicate St. N
St. Paul, MN 55104

Minnesota Department of Health's Sites of Interest Related to Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs

Technical Assistance ALLIANCE for Parent Centers (PACER Center)
8161 Normandale Blvd
Minneapolis, MN 55437-1044
(952) 838-9000 - Voice
(952) 838-0190 - TTY / 711 Relay
(952) 838-0199 - Fax
1-888-248-0822 toll free number nationwide

Partners in Policy Making teaches parents and self-advocates the power of advocacy to change the way people with disabilities are supported, viewed, taught, live and work Offers online and classroom courses.

Selected National Resources

DBTAC – Great Lakes ADA Center
University of Illinois/Chicago
Department on Disability and Human Development
1640 West Roosevelt Road, Room 405
Chicago, Illinois 60608
Phone: (312) 413-1407 (V/TTY)
Fax: (312) 413-1856

Child Care Law Center
973 Market Street
Suite 550
San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone: (415) 495-5498 SS

Commonly Asked Questions About Child Care and the ADA from the U.S. Department of Justice