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The Americans With Disabilities Act requires that reasonable accommodation should be given to people with disabilities. The law covers children with disabilities seeking reasonable accommodation in a child care setting. In addition to making physical changes, such as installing ramps, wide doors, and rest rooms that can accommodate children in wheel chairs, you may need to provide for a child's special physical, emotional, or psychological needs. Other special needs may include assistance in feeding, following special dietary requirements, giving medicines and/or performing medical procedures, and ensuring that special equipment operates or is used properly.

Before you admit a child with developmental disabilities, you should be sure that the child, you, and any other child care providers who care for the developmentally disabled child is vaccinated against hepatitis B.

You should also be sure that you can comfortably answer the following questions:

  1. Does the child's disability require more care than you are reasonably able to provide?
  2. Do you have the skills and abilities needed to do medical or other duties required for the child's care, or can you readily get those skills?
  3. Is your facility equipped to meet the health and safety needs of this child?
  4. Is the extra time you will need to devote to taking care of this child more than you can handle without putting the other children in your care at increased risk for illness or injury or without causing you to neglect their needs?

In deciding whether to admit a child with special needs, you should meet with the child's parents and health care providers to discuss the particular needs of the child. They should tell you the special requirements you will need to meet and specific procedures you will need to do. They should be able to give you an idea of how much of your time the child's special needs will take. The parents or the health care professionals should be able to train you to do the required medical procedures. They should also give you written instructions for procedures, schedules for giving medicines, and menus to meet any eating requirements. If your facility has several groups of children, the special needs child may need special placement within your facility. For example, you may need to place the child within a group of children at a particular developmental level. The child's health care professionals should help you in this and other decisions, and they should serve as ongoing consultants whom you can call for advice. Holding periodic meetings with the parents and the health care professionals to talk about problems, ask questions, and generally review the child's progress helps to make sure that the child's special needs are being met.

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that every effort to reasonably accommodate the disabled be made. In most cases, such accommodation is compatible with a safe and healthy environment in which all the children in the child care facility can thrive. As a provider responsible for all the children in your care, you should ensure that the extra demands on your time to care for a child with special needs is supported with additional resources, including help from experts, as needed. You should work with the child's parents and health care professionals to make sure that you have the support you need.

Note: This information is not intended to take the place of your state's or locality's child care regulations and laws. In every case, the laws and regulations of the city, county, and state in which the child care facility is located must be carefully followed even if they differ from these recommendations.

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