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Parents of disabled children find it hard to find suitable childminders.
Mums and Dads of disabled children often struggle to find childcare that meets the needs of their family, according to research by the National Childminding Association (NCMA). At present, a third of all registered childminders are trained to care for disabled children, with around 6,400 childminders providing specialist care for disabled children or those with additional needs across England and Wales. Because registered childminders work from their own homes and in smaller settings, they are often able to offer more flexible hours and a higher level of one-to-one care.
Registered childminders Helen and Dean Wynne from Wrexham explain how a home-based childcare setting can provide a high level of personalised care for a disabled child. Helen and Dean are a husband and wife team who have been working as registered childminders in Wrexham for four years. They
Helen explains what a registered childminder must do in order to be inclusive: 'A disabled child needs extra special love care and attention. A childminder must be interested in helping them reach their full potential and be willing to undergo training and learn related communication or medical skills.
'Children with additional needs will need patience and lots of repetition. Many like routine and are unsettled with new changes. I always ensure that I discuss the child's needs with their occupational therapist. They may be able to obtain specialised equipment for your setting to cater for a child's needs and offer essential advice, guidance and support. However, the people that know their child's personal needs best are the parents, so I always work extremely closely with the family of a child to ensure we are able to offer consistent care and attention.
'Each child is different and we always need to adapt to that. For example, a child using a wheelchair may not be able to reach the table for painting or arts and crafts. However by using an upright easel board the child can be included.'
Helen has looked after children with a range of additional needs including autism, ADHD, cerebral palsy, behaviour problems, Downs Syndrome, communication difficulties and mobility problems. She treats each child as an individual and aims to give them the best life experiences while in her care. This involves taking children on outings and every week attending Clwyd Special Riding Centre with three children.
Catering for all childrenMost registered childminders will need to make adjustments to their home to accommodate disabled children: such as putting in an access ramp, and ensuring there are downstairs bathroom facilities, and paved outdoor play areas to allow for wheelchair or pushchair access. Childminders also need to think about buying toys that can be used and enjoyed by
She says: 'It is essential that when the childminder first meets the parents they are interested in the child and that they find out as much information from the parents as possible. The parents know their child better than anyone else.
'With my son I prepared a book of his life - his 'instruction manual'. I have detailed his condition in full, the equipment he uses and how to use it, medication and allergies. It also includes information about his personality, likes and dislikes, favourite toys, songs and TV programmes, as well as words he can say and words you may not understand he is saying.
'I also included everything about his family make-up, basically everything and anything I could think of, along with some photos. My son is very proud of his book as it is about him. The more information you have at hand the better the understanding of the condition and the needs of that child.
'I hope that I can give parents a small insight into the service registered childminders can provide, and that they will seek out information about childcare for their own child through their local families information service, children's centre or social services. There really is a childminder out there who could be the one for you.'
For information about the care a registered childminder can provide for your child, Visit the National Childminding Association's website:
If you are interested in becoming a registered childminder yourself, you can contact NCMA on 0845 880 0044 for more information.
Your local Family Information Service will be able to give you details of the next briefing session for registering as a registered childminder and a list of all the registered childminders in your area.
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