Childcare is necessary for many families and there are a lot of options for typical kids. But, when you have a child with special needs of any kind, the complications just grow and grow and grow.
I’ll cover some of the typical guidelines for kids and child care options, but I’ll throw in what I can about finding care for a special needs child too.
Child Care: Costs and Options for Special Needs Kids VS Typical Kids
For children under preschool age, this is the option many parents think of first. And then they think of the cost! It’s true that daycares can be pricey – they range in price from $350 to $1,500 a month for a baby or toddler – but financial help from your local government or community is a real possibility. You’ll likely need to produce proof of income and other financial documents to find out if you’re eligible, but it’s worth a try to see if you can get some financial help.
Ask some of the daycare providers if they know about financial help.
Besides cost, here are some other things to consider about daycare.
* There may be a waiting list to get in.
* Few daycare centers accept newborns.
* Babies and kids in daycare tend to get sick often.
* Staff is professionally trained.
* The facility is held accountable by a higher agency – they must be licensed and regulated.
* Kids get to socialize before school age.
2. In-Home Babysitter
Many parents like the idea of a babysitter who comes to their home every day. This might be a cheaper option, but not necessarily. You can save some money by offering to pick up and drop off the sitter, and by providing meals. Younger people (such as teenagers) tend to cost much less than an older, seasoned babysitter. You’ll pay more if you ask the sitter to do housework and/or drive his or her own vehicle.
One of the benefits to this option is that you may find teens or parents or relatives of someone who had/has special needs similar to your own child. For instance, one of the girls that my older daughter goes to school with also has an autistic younger brother. She could be a sitter for my own daughter, if she is interested.
Here are some other things to think about when hiring a home babysitter.
* Your kids get to stay in their own home.
* The babysitter can be a trusted family friend or someone highly recommended by other families.
* In-home sitters are more flexible than a daycare with set hours (and you can come home at odd hours if you feel the need to check up unexpectedly).
* Leaving someone in your house all day may make you uncomfortable.
* Unless the sitter brings her own kids, your kids won’t get to be with other children.
Nannies are generally the most expensive option. They are professionals, and they often live with the family. You can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $700 a week for a qualified nanny; if she lives with you, it may be a lot less since you are providing room and board.
Here are some pros and cons of nannies.
* Children get to know one caregiver.
* There’s more personalized attention.
* Children stay in familiar surroundings.
* Nannies can go with you on vacation, errands, etc.
* There may not be regulation or supervision by a higher agency.
* Taxes and paperwork for hiring a nanny can be extensive.
Family members will often watch your children without asking any pay. You may feel more comfortable paying something, however, so you don’t feel obligated. Giving gift certificates or buying gifts of appreciation is another way to “pay” for family member help.
Here are some other things to think about with family member care.
* Relatives get to spend time with their cousins/nieces/grandkids/nephews.
* Family members have a personal interest in your kids.
* It can be hard to establish a “working” relationship where the parents are respected as the rule-makers.
* There may be tension if your discipline or care philosophies differ.
* Active kids can wear out senior relatives.
This option is the only one we’ve had for the entirety of my youngest daughter’s life. I didn’t know who would be able to care for her, or I didn’t have enough money to actually pay someone qualified.
As a single parent, it wasn’t until just recently that we received a grant that helps pay caregivers for respite care. Now, I have to figure out where to find someone qualified!
I’ve been told to contact the local colleges and ask for student who are in certain studies, like psychology, education or counseling. I haven’t gotten that far, but I will.
5. One Parent at Home
Even if you think this isn’t an option, think again. Given the high costs of many of the other options, it may be a more affordable choice than you think. Sit down with a pad and pencil to figure out the difference in income if one parent stays home versus one of the above child care options. You may be surprised at what you find!
You can also do a combination of any of the above. Perhaps a parent can stay home several days a week, while a babysitter comes on other days. Hopefully, this information will help you make the right decision for your family.