after-school care for kids with special needs

After-School Care For Kids With Special Needs

One topic that’s been on our minds since it’s back to school time is after-school care. 


How Often Will You Need Care?


After-school care is a complex topic because it depends on things like how many hours you work, how many days a week you work, how busy your child’s after-school schedule is, and what your overall focus of after-school care is. It’s important to take all these variables into consideration when you’re thinking about after-school care. 


How Much Attention Will Your Child Need?


If you have a child with some significant deficits, a traditional after-school program is not going to be optimal for you. Those programs are set up to be group-oriented, and if your child needs more one on one attention because they are going to run, or have behavior or compliance issues, you may not be happy with that kind of group setting. It’s important that you look at their ability to participate in a group. If they’re not able to participate in a group well, that will affect your decisions for childcare.


Info To Share With Your Child’s Caregiver


Many of our sensory kids do go to after-school programs successfully without any issues. If you choose this route, it’s helpful if you share your child’s issues with the caregivers. Whatever your child’s particular quirks or things that work best for them, definitely share that information with the caregivers. Sometimes we don’t want to share that information. We want that to be private. But it’s in your child’s best interest for your caregiver to have all the facts. That gives your child the best chance for success. If you meet with the school and talk to the right people you can still keep the information fairly private, but still allow the people working with your child to know what might make them happy or sad, or what to avoid. 


After-School Care At Public School


Many public schools offer after-school childcare, but it fills up quickly. Most schools who offer these programs are pretty good at understanding the needs of our special needs kids. As long as your kids are on the mild to moderate side of the spectrum, the school after-school care should be able to accommodate them in that setting. But remember, these are still set up for groups, and they often have younger people running them. These are important points to consider when you’re making this decision for your child.


Children With Busy Schedules


If you have a child who has a very busy schedule, maybe with several therapies in the afternoon and into the evening, most of the families here have had success hiring someone to work one-on-one with their child. There might be other children in the home who don’t have special needs, and that person could help with those kids also. This one-on-one or nanny-type situation has worked best for most of our families because that nanny is able to bring them to their therapies and interact with the providers. They’re able to make sure that they get picked up from school safely, and that their work gets done. You’re also able to customize a care plan with a lot of detail for that provider. You can set up whatever role or boundaries you want that person to have. This way when you come home from work many of those things are already done, and they’re done in a style that you prefer. 


One note of caution:


Please don’t just stick your child in a program and hope it works! That usually creates a lot of difficulties for the kiddos as well as for the school environment they’re in. We urge you to be fairly candid with the people who will be working with your kids. Anyone who cares for children with more significant issues should have paperwork for you to fill out that’s very detailed about the needs of your child. 

In the end, the choice of after-school childcare comes down to your child, your child’s particular issues, your schedule, the amount of work you’re doing, and what you feel would be optimal for your family. We always recommend networking with other parents. We do have some providers listed in our resources, and we have some places to share for you to look. But you’re going to get the best information from parent interaction. 

We hope you find excellent after-school childcare! 

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