If you read my blog regularly, you’ll already know I’m a single Mum. Sam is 9 now and has, “Low functioning Autism”. He’s non verbal and still in pull ups, so finding childcare for him isn’t as straight forward as for most kids. Sam has already been off school for 4 months, so I’m now on week 15 of juggling home schooling and working. In all honesty, not much of either has been happening, so I decided it was time to find some childcare. So with that in mind, today I am sharing some tips I have picked up while I’ve been searching for special needs childcare in my area. Read on to find out where you too can find help.
Finding Special Needs Childcare In My Area
Sam has a respite carer who looks after Sam for 3 nights per month under normal circumstances. Unfortunately, she has recently had chemotherapy so is now self isolating. That has meant that all of Sam’s weekday childcare (and the work vs schooling struggle) has been my responsibility. When I began to look at other options, I realised they were somewhat limited. Read on to find out which options I did find:
Family And Friends
Some special needs parents have a great support circle around them. Quite often, grandparents, aunts, uncles or other relatives will help out if you ask. Occasionally, friends can offer a couple of hours of childcare too. Unfortunately, that’s not an option for me. My parents have passed away, my siblings work full time and my friends can’t juggle their own kids plus Sam’s behavioural needs. This means I have to look elsewhere.
A few friends had mentioned childcare.co.uk before so decided to look there. At first, it looked like they didn’t offer any special needs care. However, when I went into the advanced search options, there are boxes you can tick, and one of them is “special needs experience”. So once I had checked that, only potential carers in my area with special needs experience showed up for me. I was amazed to see that there were 98 candidates within 5 miles of my area.
You can then filter this down further by using the advanced search options to select the days and times you need childcare. Only carers who have availability during those hours will show up. You can read potential carers’ profiles to see exactly what experience they’ve had, and even message them – once you’ve registered. I was surprised that this is free to do.
I loved that you can add things like CRB check, OFSTED Registered etc to the filters too. This means you’re only seeing potential carers who tick all of the “registered childminder” boxes.
There are categories for childminders, babysitters, nannies and more. So you can find a carer who meets your needs. There’s also the option to filter by carers who offer overnight care. This is great if you don’t have anyone to help overnight, and need a break.
Some areas have special needs play schemes or summer camps. My area usually does, but unfortunately, they’ve been cancelled for this year. So it looks like all of the special needs parents in my area are in the same boat. Fingers crossed you have more luck on this front than I did.
All told, I think childcare.co.uk is a great place to find childcare. While I haven’t hired anyone yet, I am in contact with a couple of potential care providers. So I’d recommend people check out the website to see who’s available in their local area. Finally, if this post on finding special needs childcare in my area has been helpful, check out my Autism category for similar posts.