Document Type


Publication Date

January 2007


Work and family, Parents of children with disabilities, Parents of mentally ill children -- Services for, Children with disabilities -- Care


Parents don't always feel they can disclose the special needs of their children to other families or even caregivers unless it is obvious they have had the training and skills to handle the situation. They also may not disclose their children's special needs to their employer, unless difficulties arranging and keeping child care make disclosure necessary. Major policy issue but unknown to public because many families do not disclose. Reality is that 1 in 5 families have a child with special needs. Research implications---parents develop strategies to keep their jobs and keep child care. Parents often have to choose between keeping their jobs or accessing services because health care and mental health services are often available only during working hours. Research findings are that children are not accepted for child care due to their special needs; and if a provider does enroll them, parents are called often at work to handle child care problems, disrupting their work. Considering expulsion from child care: 1/4 parents asked to remove their child for behavioral issues vs. 1/10 for physical issues. Some families try to handle child care by tag-team parenting, and attempt to rearrange their work schedules so that they can care for the child at home. Nearly 20% of US children have emotional or behavioral problems which provide unique challenges to access services, keep up with regular school, or make transportation arrangements. Work-family integration problems are particularly acute for parents having children with emotional or behavioral challenges; 48% of parents of children with emotional or behavioral problems had to quit work at some time to care for their children at home. Children with behavioral needs are 20% more likely to be expelled from child care, than children without those challenges. The ideal situation for families that have children with special needs may be inclusive child care arrangements. Inclusion consultants and mental health consultants should be supporting the workers who need to gain strategies and knowledge so that care providers and parents have honesty in communication as partners, and then the care givers can assist and support the children and families.


PDF version of a presentation given at the State Child Care Administrators' Management Institute and Child Care Policy Management Research Consortium Meeting: The Intersection of Research, Policy and Practice, Washington, DC, August 1, 2007.

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