Inclusion in Family Child Care... Are you ready?

Are you ready to serve a child with diverse needs and abilities?

Many Kansas child care providers already have a great deal of experience working with children who have diverse needs and abilities. For others, however, this experience is new and they may have some questions about their knowledge and skills. If you are wondering if you have the expertise to care for a child with disabilities, it may help to remember three very important things...

You know more than you think you do...


Chances are, you already make changes and adapt to the needs of the children in your care. You may hold one child in your lap during group time and offer another a special spoon to use while she is learning to feed herself. You may send daily notes home for an infant’s parents, and provide a special nap time blanket for a toddler. Creating an inclusive family child care home begins with what you already do when you individualize your attention and daily activities so that all children can participate and feel loved.

There is little you will have to change...

For the most part, children with disabilities don't require child care providers to change much about what they are doing. You won't have to start all over planning your program. In fact, one of the benefits of inclusion is that children with diverse needs and abilities get to experience the natural day-to-day routines of their typically developing peers. Enrolling a child with diverse needs and abilities may mean making room for a wheelchair, or learning a new way to position a child so he/she is comfortable. It may involve using a few new picture cards to help a child communicate, or meeting with another adult from time to time who also works with the child with diverse needs and abilities.

You have help! child

You don't have to do this alone. Families are a great resource. After all, they have been teaching their child since birth! Children who enroll in your program also may have speech and language therapists, physical therapists and early interventionists who will want to become partners with you in serving the child and the family. Just as their ideas and expertise will help you, your daily observations and insights about the child will be valuable to them. 

Child Care Aware® of Eastern Kansas can provide you with resources and ideas that can support you and all of the children in your program. Look to us for training opportunities and consultation about caring for children with diverse needs and abilities. Our staff is available to give you ideas and strategies about room arrangement, equipment, daily schedules and guidance techniques that will build a high-quality program that will support every child in your care, including those who may have diverse needs and abilities. Our Resource Lending Library gives you access to books, videos, prop boxes for dramatic play, and information specifically about caring for children with diverse needs and abilities. These support services are available because of funding received from both the Child Care Aware® of Kansas and the Capital Area Successful Start initiative.

Action steps to get you started with inclusion.

In order to serve children with diverse needs and abilities, a family child care home first must be prepared to meet the needs of children who are typically developing. This requires finding out about and using local and state resources designed just for providers.

If you are just getting started with your business...

In order to care for children in your home who are not your relatives, you must first be licensed by the state. Here are the first steps in starting a family child care home:

1. Contact your county health department. They will help you get started with the paperwork you will need to complete and submit. Some area health departments conduct group orientation sessions to guide you through this process. 

2. Contact us at 785-357-5171, 1-877-678-2548 toll free, and let us know of your interest. We will add you to our mailing list for Child Care Aware® News, the newsletter we publish for child care professionals in our area. 

3. As a way to prepare for the licensing process, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is my home safe indoors and out for young children?
- What do I know about how children learn and develop?
- Do I have a back-up plan for coverage in case of an emergency?
- What additional knowledge and resources do I need to operate a business in my home? 

4. To prepare for serving children with diverse needs and abilities, ask:
- Is my house accessible to persons with physical disabilities?
- Do I have the space for any special equipment that may be needed?
- What training will I need to receive?

If you are already in business and now want to enroll children with diverse needs and abilities...

An increasing number of early childhood professionals in Kansas are enjoying the personal rewards and satisfaction that comes from getting involved in the lives of young children with disabilities and their families. Here are some strategies you may consider:

• Call us and let us know your interest in providing care for children with diverse needs and abilities. Find out about upcoming training opportunities that may support you as you gain new knowledge and skills. Consider requesting an on-site visit to help evaluate your environment and answer your questions about room arrangement, daily schedules and activity planning.  

• Review the Kansas Core Competencies magazine (contact us if you need a copy). This is a helpful tool to help you determine your current areas of knowledge and where you might want to focus future professional development efforts. 

• Access area training opportunities or enroll in a class through your area community college or university.

• Contact your local Department for Children & Families (DCF) office to determine whether you may qualify for a higher reimbursement rate if you care for a child with a disability who receives subsidy support. 

• Join your local child care association. Share your interest in including children with diverse needs and abilities with other association members. Networking can help you learn about new resources, as well as strategies for inclusive care. 

• Get in touch with early childhood providers in your area who serve children with diverse needs and abilities. Ask if you can visit their program to learn more. 

• A parent who enrolls their child in your program should be asked if their child has an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) or Individualized Education Plan (IEP), and then asked to share a copy of the plan with you. Children under the age of 3 will have an IFSP, which outlines the support services determined to be the most helpful to the child and to the family. The IFSP is developed by a team of professionals led by the area ICC (Infant/Toddler Services). Children over the age of 3 will have an IEP, which outlines support services determined to be the most helpful for the child and the family. The IEP is developed by a team of professionals coordinated through your local school district. Encourage the parent to allow you to be a part of the planning team. Utilize the expertise of the team providing services. You are a vital support person for the child and the family and can share valuable information with the team about the child, their interests and abilities. This is a valuable asset in helping to determine services needed and setting goals for the child.

What about curriculum and daily activities?

Each child in your care has a unique set of skills, abilities, knowledge and interests. Meeting the needs of young children to develop and learn is an honorable and challenging goal!

childThe term "curriculum" refers to the daily opportunities for learning that you offer the children in your care. Some providers utilize a highly structured curriculum plan and others have a very flexible and casual approach. It is important for caregivers to be intentional about their approach and to reflect on the experiences they are offering that are utilized for supporting children's learning. The most successful child care providers are those who use their own interests and passions as a major part of their curriculum. Providers who love music typically offer a music-rich curriculum, and those that enjoy gardening will often incorporate that passion into their program by offering opportunities for outdoor science through gardening experiences. Some things to consider . . .

• How will you know what each child needs to reach his or her potential?
• How can you tell if curriculum is appropriate to meet each child's individual needs?
• How can you be respectful of and responsive to children and families of different cultures?
• How can you work with early intervention providers, such as therapists and educators, who may visit your home to help you serve children with diverse needs and abilities?
• How can you determine whether the activities you plan for the children are developmentally appropriate?

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has established guidelines that you can refer to that can help you to determine whether the activities and experiences you offer are developmentally appropriate. There are also nationally respected environmental rating scales to help you to evaluate environmental issues, which include curriculum, activities and interactions. Call us at 785-357-5171, 1-877-678-2548 toll free, for more information or assistance in using these resources.

If you have questions regarding a child in your care who has a diverse need  or ability, or you would like screening information for a child in your care that is birth through 3 years of age, contact your local ICC agency listed below. For information for children ages 3 to 5, contact your local school district.

Map of ICC Agencies



For questions about legal issues concerning rates you can charge for children with disabilities, what accommodations must be made in the physical environment, etc., please visit the U.S. Department of Justice at

 &   united way