Children with Disabilities

Childcare Options for Children with Disabilities

12 March 2024
Posted by: Chelsea

Having a child with additional needs can be challenging, particularly so in the context of finding daycare services.

Childcare Options for Children with Disabilities

Please note that in what follows, there is a large degree of generalisation because each child and family’s needs will be different and it is therefore impossible to be specific.

Defining ‘disability’ and what that means for daycare services

The term ‘disabled’ is still widely heard but it is increasingly being replaced by the more meaningful term additional needs’.
Children with Disabilities who have additional needs, where daycare is concerned, may require support in many different areas. They might include:

  • physical – such as wheelchair access, assistance in walking, visual aids (e.g. always being sat at the front closest to display boards), special help with toilet use, unique dietary regimes, regular medication, etc;
  • emotional/behavioural/social – this might include difficulty regulating emotions, conditions such as temper outbursts, ADHD (usually not diagnosed before 4 years of age), depression (rarely diagnosed younger than 5-6 years), aggression, vandalism, theft, bullying, toilet difficulties;
  • educational – this is a subset cluster of challenges usually relating to children who, for no obvious reason, appear to be experiencing delays in particular areas of development, and who might need additional assistance to progress.

Most providers of daycare services will be very eager to try and help children with disabilities where possible and to be as flexible as they can. However, their ability to assist may be limited depending on which of the above categories the additional needs come into and the severity and origin of the symptoms.

Start with the authorities

There are national and state associations that exist specifically to assist with the diagnosis of additional needs and the provision of funds and facilities to try and achieve full inclusivity for the children concerned.

It is important to start your search for daycare services for children with additional needs by arranging initial consultations with the appropriate medical and social services to obtain a clear view of the areas the child requires support in, and therefore, a firm understanding of their needs in terms of daycare and pre-school education.

In some instances, notably in areas such as ADHD, it might be a daycare centre that initially identifies a potential area of development and draws it to the attention of parents for further investigation via appropriately qualified medical experts.

Discuss the child’s needs with a daycare centre

If you identify your child as having additional needs under any of the above categories, most professional daycare centres will require a statement from a qualified expert as to the nature of the underlying condition and what the additional needs are. For some diagnosed conditions, this may be a requirement of their professional insurance.

Once that is to hand, their ability to assist is impossible to predict, as it will depend upon the nature of the needs and their ability to meet them. Please remember again that what follows is therefore very generalist in nature and might not apply to your specific circumstances of children with disabilities.

Physical conditions

Some daycare centres may be able to provide additional physical support services to facilitate wheelchair access, help in using the toilet and special diet regimes etc.

Where a child’s needs include very specialised medical support including medication and the ongoing monitoring of equipment (e.g. IV drips) the position may become more challenging due to the possible requirements for highly qualified medical personnel to be constantly or rapidly available in the event of a problem etc.


Some centres may be very used to seeing children who need extra support in these areas – subject to a precise diagnosis and statement of required treatment. They may have excellent remedial techniques that will help in some (though not all) cases.

However, where such conditions are very challenging, requiring constant attention and possibly 1-to-1 tuition and caring, these services may be better provided by specialist centres. Daycare centres will also be under a duty of care to other children in their charge and if a child’s behaviours are seen as potentially constituting a significant risk to others, they may be unable to assist.


Some centres will be very used to children who have, for various reasons, required additional support in particular areas of their development. They may well have great methods of being able to assist – though again, this may depend upon the exact nature of the diagnosis.


Don’t hesitate to ask your chosen potential provider of childcare services for more information on their assistance structures for children with disabilities.

If you’d like to know how some of our programs, such as Jolly Phonics, might help children with some forms of additional needs, please don’t hesitate to call us for an appointment to discuss your particular circumstances.

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