Across Minnesota, parents of children with disabilities and medical complexities are struggling to access consistent, high-quality, accessible child care.
We have heard from parents whose children have been discharged from child care following a disability diagnosis (even though they were being supported in the same setting beforehand), those who were denied services because the child’s support needs were too intensive, and many other experiences that families face.
Our community must work to build understanding – and establish an expectation – that children with disabilities can and should access child care services in integrated settings alongside their siblings and peers.
We must also close the gap in the continuum of services and supports for children with disabilities to reduce the strain on informal and formal support networks, particularly for children whose disability or diagnosis requires more intensive medical interventions.
That’s why The Arc Minnesota is partnering with the Autism Society of Minnesota, Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota, Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota, Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, the Minnesota Child Care Association, the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, New Horizons, Proof Alliance, St. David’s Center for Child & Family Development to advance a proposal during this upcoming legislative session that would create grants for child care providers to establish or expand inclusive child care options.
Child care providers could use the grant funds for training, administrative support, environmental modifications, and much more, while creating a mechanism for children to share more specialized services – such as homecare nursing or personal care assistance – in inclusive settings.
We believe this inclusive child care model will alleviate constraints on the homecare workforce shortage, allow parents or family members to work (or rest!) during the day, and afford children with disabilities the opportunity to access child care alongside their siblings and neuro-typical peers – resulting in long-term, positive developmental benefits for all children, and building true belonging in community from an early age.
To help parent advocates get engaged in the effort to advance this proposal, share stories, and stay informed during session, we’ve created a Facebook group – “Inclusive Child Care for Children with Disabilities in Minnesota”. You can join the group at www.facebook.com/groups/Inclusive.Child.Care
If you have a story to share and/or would like to be part of future stakeholder groups/community conversations about this issue, contact our Legislative Advocacy Intern, Luke Vannurden, at firstname.lastname@example.org.