Child care: why it’s good for children with disability, autism or other additional needs
Child care can give your child opportunities to:
- explore and play with other children
- do a broad range of interesting learning activities
- develop social, emotional, communication and problem-solving skills
- develop physical abilities.
It can also be good for your child’s confidence, mental health and wellbeing.
Child care can give you the chance to work outside your home, go to appointments, do grocery shopping and so on.
Child care might also give you time for self-care and other activities that you enjoy. When you look after yourself and do things that make you feel good, including work, you’ll have more mental and emotional energy to put into your relationship with your child. And you’re better able to give your child what they need to grow and thrive.
Child care rights for children with disability, autism or other additional needs
Choosing child care services for children with disability, autism or other additional needs
- Does the environment look safe and engaging for your child?
- Are all indoor and outdoor areas accessible for your child? For example, if your child uses a wheelchair or a walking frame, can they freely move around the service?
- Does the service have equipment and resources that let your child fully participate and play? For example, if your child is non-verbal, does the service have picture cards, playground signs and other resources to help your child communicate?
- If equipment and resources need to be purchased or adapted to make the environment safe, engaging and accessible, how will this happen? Do you need to do anything to help?
Early childhood educators
- Are educators keen to welcome and support your child?
- Are educators experienced in working with children with disability?
- How will educators work with you to understand your child’s specific needs? Do they need training to understand, support and plan for your child’s specific needs?
- Do educators focus on your child’s strengths and interests as well as your child’s needs?
- Does the centre have policies that support inclusion and participation for children with disability?
- Are parents and carers of children with disability welcomed and encouraged to participate in activities at the service?
- Are there children with disability already at the service?
- Does the service use Inclusion Support Program funding, or is it willing to apply for this funding to support your child?
One or more of your child’s health or disability professionals might be able to help you assess the service’s facilities and environment. For example, you could ask your physiotherapist or occupational therapist.
There are 5 options for child care – centre-based care, family day care, home-based care, business-related creches and outside school hours care. You can adapt the checklists above if you’re interested in options other than centre-based or family day care.
Inclusion funding for children with disability, autism or other additional needs at child care
- employing additional staff
- training staff
- getting special equipment like toileting aids and handrails
- getting or modifying toys and play equipment
- getting devices and aids to help with communication.
Advocating for the rights of children with disability, autism or other additional needs at child care
- believe that your child’s rights to inclusion aren’t being met
- feel your child is being unlawfully discriminated against
- experience significant delays with Inclusion Support Program funding applications.
It’s best for your child’s wellbeing and development to be in an environment where they feel safe, happy, respected and valued. If you feel a service can’t or doesn’t want to provide this kind of environment for your child, it might be worth looking into other options.