Phew! You just got things all figured out, lined up sitters, nannies and preschool (which is quite a feat), and now you’ve discovered your little bundle of joy has some special medical needs. What to do? Will your current system work? I feel you mom, I’ve experienced this myself and made quite a few mistakes! Every situation and kid is different, but here are some ideas to get you started.
Childcare, by the way, isn’t limited to traditional daycare or preschool situations. When your child has special medical needs, they need to be taken into consideration every time kiddo is away from you. Think about daycare, yes, but also childcare at the gym, the nursery at church, date night sitters and even stays with Grandma & Grandpa or friends.
When choosing a childcare situation, think through the physical setting. Does the setting merely accommodate their needs or will it help your child thrive? Think through the different things your child will do while in care. Will they go outside? Will they play with toys, and are all the toys safe for them or just select ones? How will the provider manage that?
Will they eat or drink in care, and what? What are the chances of cross contamination and how will the provider prevent that? Are there stairs or other physical barriers? Certified providers must meet stringent standards, but some settings are definitely better for managing medical needs. Consider if in-home care would be a good option.
Written action plans can be fantastic for childcare providers (all of them – gym, Grandma, everybody). It will give everyone some peace of mind to know you have a plan in place. Work with your child’s physicians to map out what your child needs. Ask them to help you name steps to take including when you definitely want to be contacted quickly! Here’s an example of an action plan for asthma,
Public schools use Individual Health Plans and 504 plans to lay out the specific needs of the child in writing. Using these as templates may be a great way to communicate with your childcare provider. They will at the very least help you think through all of the situations and needs that your child may have. Physicians offices often have templates and advice for what to include in 504 and individual health plans that may be of assistance.
Communicate A LOT. Communicate what is going on with your child, and also listen. I admit I haven’t always been the best at that last part. It’s easy to believe that what’s worked in the past is still working but remember – a child with medical needs can change quickly and be a lot of work for both you and your childcare provider. When you find a good one, the last thing you want to do is burn them out or stress them out, so pay extra attention!
Remember, you are doing great, mom! This can be hard, but your wonderful kiddo is way more than their diagnosis, and there are great childcare providers out there that have a lot to offer them.