In many cases, a child with special needs requires in-home healthcare. Finding healthcare providers who are professional and experienced is just as important as considering how a caregiver will fit into the family dynamic and provide the best possible situation for your child.
Finding a caregiver to handle the special needs of your child is doable, with some research and help.
The Need for Specialized Caregivers
According to an article in Parents Magazine entitled "How to Find Child Care for Special Needs Kids", the National Center for Education Statistics indicates that the number of special-needs children ages 3 to 5 who are helped under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has nearly doubled in the last two decades.
Could a Day Care Help?
In some circumstances, a day care that specializes in caring for children with special needs may provide an answer to child care concerns. Before placing your child in this type of care setting, it is wise to do extensive research about the day care, its staff, and its philosophy regarding dealing with children on a highly individualized basis.
When In-Home Care is Preferred
In other cases, however, a parent may decide that in-home care is more appropriate for his or her child. If this is the option that more closely matches what your child and your entire family feel is appropriate, there are a number of things you can do to find a suitable caregiving candidate. Here are some tips for finding appropriate care:
1) Clearly define what type of care is needed.
In-home care can encompass a wide range of services. If your child is medically fragile, attention must be given to meeting his or her physical needs. If your child is mentally challenged, you will need to explore options that cater to those with mental disabilities as well.
In order to clearly define the type of care needed, you will profit from making a list of your child's abilities, along with a list of challenges your child faces. Listing behavioral difficulties, as well as your child's unique strengths and abilities, will help you narrow the search for caregivers considerably.
2) Explore your care options.
Once you determine the type of care your child needs, explore all available ways to acquire that care. Some possibilities include specialized child care centers for children with special needs, in-home healthcare, and in-home nanny care.
3) Begin your search.
Talk to family and friends about your needs. If you are part of a support group for parents with special needs children, ask fellow group members for recommendations. Check with local and state authorities about offerings catering to special needs kids in your community.
4) Check references carefully.
One of the biggest concerns of parents with special needs kids is the security and safety of their children when in someone else's care. Because many special needs kids may be unable to articulate problems and issues that they face, parents must protect them by carefully screening any caregiver applying to work with a special needs child.
5) Perform a background check and an in-depth, in-person interview.
In some cases, a candidate who looks great on paper because of a super resume may be a completely inappropriate choice for your particular child. Much can be gleaned from a comprehensive, in-person interview. Though you may not be able to completely weed out potential bad candidates, having a personal interview with them will allow your innate senses to kick in, warning you about potential danger.
Often this is no more than a gut feeling, but it is wise to give some weight to an initial impression when dealing with a matter as important as the health and well-being of your child. If in doubt, trust your instincts and move on to another candidate.
6) Set up a meet-and-greet with your child.
While it is often awkward for a caregiver and child to interact in an initial meeting, even a short session of time spent observing the way the caregiver and your child deal with each other can tell you much about whether the caregiver will be a good fit for your child and your whole family.
7) Check the physical strength of the caregiver.
In many cases, medically fragile children may have heavy medical equipment which must be handled. Additionally, care of your child may require a certain amount of physical strength that would not necessarily be an issue in the case of a child without special needs. Assessing the strength and stamina of your caregiver is essential.
8) Check for qualities that match your ideals and family dynamic.
Handling the unique challenges of caring for a special needs child requires patience, compassion, kindness, and enthusiasm. Look for a caregiver who exhibits these qualities liberally, and make sure that the personality of the caregiver meshes well with all your family.
A caregiver who is a good fit for your family can be a great help for your child.
9) Clearly define expectations and compensation.
Be open and honest with your caregiver about the challenges he or she will face in dealing with your child. Paint a clear picture of your child's physical, mental, and emotional state. Explain any behavioral issues the caregiver is likely to encounter. Explain what you are able to pay for caregiver services.
Paint probable scenarios your caregiver will encounter with your child, and ask candidly how the caregiver would handle such situations. The answers you receive to those questions should help you narrow your search even more.
Help from Professional Care Services
Providing service to King, Pierce and Snohomish counties of Washington State, First Choice In-Home Care is proud of our designation as a state-certified, in-home care service. Our care workers are all Department of Health credentialed Nursing Assistants, Home Care Aides or Registered Nurses.
We work with families like yours every day to care for the unique challenges of special needs children. If you would like to talk with us about your child, please contact us today. We look forward to working with you to promote the health and happiness of your child with kind, compassionate service.