A Qualitative Analysis of the Experiences and Perspectives of Family Child Care Providers Who Care for Young Children with Disabilities
Wayne, Tracey Simone
Beckman, Paula J.
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Increases in the number of parents in the paid labor force and welfare reform have resulted in more families requiring non-parental child care. Most often this care is provided in environments outside of the child's own home. There is also a trend to promote the inclusion of young children with disabilities in community-based settings. Families of children with disabilities often prefer family child care programs. However, limited research has been conducted on family child care providers who include children with disabilities in their programs. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences and perspectives of family child care providers who care for young children with disabilities, using the following research questions: (a) What factors encourage family child care providers to accept young children with disabilities? (b) What strategies do family child care providers use to include young children with disabilities? (c) What supports do family child care providers receive while caring for young children with disabilities? (d) What barriers are reported by family child care providers who care for young children with disabilities? A multiple case study design was used. Data collection involved: (a) interviews with licensed family child care providers, parents of children with disabilities and administrators involved in training and licensure; (b) observations of family child care providers; and (c) a review of documents. Case summaries were written for each provider. Then a cross-provider analysis was conducted. All of the providers had some experience or exposure to children with disabilities in the past. They believed that all children were unique and special and demonstrated a positive attitude toward inclusion. Providers engaged in pre-service and in-service disability-related training. Providers and the parents established strong collaborative relationships. Strategies to include the children with disabilities ranged from using specialized equipment to simple modifications. Early childhood special education staff supported the providers in including the children. Other sources of support included membership in associations, as well as smaller informal networks. Barriers reported were related to lack of training opportunities and funding for specialized equipment, the needs of the child with a disability, and factors associated with the business.