October 28, 2009

If my job is the rock, does that mean child care is the hard place?

I frequently get calls from mother's who find themselves between a rock and a hard place.  Here is the scenario; you have a new job after being unemployed or underemployed and your previously solid child care arrangement has just come undone the day before your new job starts.  Or, your child care center has just informed you that they can no longer accommodate your child because (insert excuse here).  What makes these situations extremely challenging is that your child is diagnosed with autism and you know that finding a new arrangement will take an act of God.  What do you do?
Below, I have compiled a few possible suggestions:
1. Consider a home health aide
Home health aides are typically nurses that you can utilize through a home health aide agency.  In order to get this service you will need your doctor to write a letter of medical necessity for your child and submit this to your insurance agency.  Different rules may apply in other parts of the country, but a good place to start is How to Choose a Homecare Provider and Pediatric Care.  This a Pennsylvania site, but the info is general and informative.
2. Add recreation and social skills programs to your childs IEP
Education is not the only purpose of your child's Individual Education Program (IEP).  As your children get older they may age out of a traditional daycare setting yet still not be able to stay home by themselves.  In this case if you don't have someone to look after them you could advocate for an after school program or a social skills program.  Now I am not saying this is just as easy as asking for it, (notice I wrote "advocate"). In fact it may not be easy at all, but if your options are few, you can't avoid at least asking.  Some schools are hip to the needs of children with autism and offer their own programs, if you happen to know one, please put it on blast here so we can all move to that particular state and school district!
3.  Quit your job and go on public assistance
If you don't work, you don't have to pay nor find child care. There are other issues which make this option unappealing, but hey at least you know your child is being taken care of properly! I jest, but really what is a parent to do when all other options have been exhausted?

Any other suggestions are welcome.  Depending on where you live you may have other options like offered by non profits, or state agencies to answer the question of what to do when you have no one left to care for your child.

This is why my mother and I founded- Autism Child Care Connection Inc.  We are preparing to remedy the situation (at least in our area) by creating a safe place for children with autism.  We are making it inclusive, because life is diverse, yet specialized because we know autism and the challenges that go along with it. I know first hand what its like to have your child kicked out of daycare, on  your second week of a job that you were hoping would pull you and your family to a better standard of living.  I have had my own relatives ask me to take my child somewhere else.  I have had to leave jobs for lack of child care.  I also know that I am not alone.  At least once a week I get a phone call from a parent in the same situation I was in.  For the longest time I thought that someone else, some agency, foundation , group would come along eventually and solve the problem.  But no one has.  They have attempted to assuage it with lesser programs, respite, and special parents nights, but that does nothing for a single mother who needs either full day care or consistent after school care.

I am looking for solutions, if you have some things that have worked for your family or in your community please share in the comments.