Finding qualified childcare, babysitter or nanny is a challenge for any parent; even more when that family includes a child with special needs or a disability. Many times, this person becomes a part of the family and a trusted ally to a parent that is facing a combination of balancing therapy sessions, work, their neurotypical children’s activities and a severe lack of sleep. Yet finding the “perfect Mary Poppins” or daycare may involve background checks, months of searches and a few nightmares along the way.
AbilityPath.org interviewed two moms on the lessons they learned during their decision making process and hiring of a nanny or childcare. In addition, the following toolkits and resources are available to assist parents and guardians of children with special needs.
Five Steps to Consider when Hiring Childcare
Sample Job Post for Nanny or Childcare
Sample Interview Questions for Nanny or Childcare
Sample Work Agreement for Nanny or Childcare
A Single Mom that Looked Past Tattoos and Found Someone to do the Heavy Lifting
“Vanessa” is a single mom to two beautiful boys: 12-year-old Paul with cerebral palsy and his younger 9-year-old John. She works from home as a medical writer which allows the flexibility to set her own hours when the children are at school. However, when the boys get home in the afternoons, she needs help for the physical demands that Paul requires due to his disability. She also finds it important to ensure that John’s childhood experience is not overly affected by his older brother’s special needs, including his assistance of helping his mother physically move Paul into or out of his wheelchair. As Paul grew, Vanessa realized she needed someone strong that could help with the ‘heavy lifting’ around the house as well as be a male influence for her two boys. Her household income was too high to participate in a Big Brothers’ program. One morning, Vanessa shared her conundrum to her hair dresser who suggested her nephew, Jason, as someone that might be able to help her out.
“The first day Jason, my hair dresser’s nephew, showed up to help me with my boys, my jaw dropped when I answered the door,” said Vaness. “He had a sleeve of tattoos and baggy pants. He looked more like he should be hanging out on a street corner then helping my boys. I was tired and really needed help moving Paul into his bed, so I invited him in. Jason could not have been kinder and gentler to Paul as he lifted him effortlessly from his wheelchair. Shortly after, I began explaining Paul’s daily routine and medication, (when my younger son) John ran in, full of young boy energy from school. Jason checked to see if Paul was comfortable and then ran outside to toss around the football with John. I sat down on the couch and took that nap I had wanted and needed for 3 years. Jason would work out just fine!”
Choosing Childcare and Preschool
Jason has continued working with Vanessa for over two years. He is great with both boys, but isn’t always the most reliable caregiver. He will sometimes not show up or call 10 minutes after he is supposed to arrive. This is frustrating to Vanessa, but she will overlook it because Jason is great with both her boys and she feels comfortable by the fact that she knows his family. Hiring Jason taught Vanessa not only the importance of asking close family or friends for referrals, but to not also get caught up on appearances when finding the right person to spend time with her children.