Special Care for Special Kids: Inclusive Child Care Training Program

Special Care for Special KidsFor years, child care providers throughout the State of Maryland have been asking for help. They want to learn how to better care for children with special needs in their programs. Many are unfamiliar with certain pediatric disabilities and are often afraid they will be unable to meet their needs. Still more worry about safety and whether they will be able to integrate children with special needs into their child care programs.

PACT: Helping Children With Special Needs, an independent affiliate of the Kennedy Krieger Institute, offers a program to ensure child care providers are able to give children with special needs the best care possible: The Inclusive Child Care Training Program.

"We want children with medical and developmental needs to have access to high-quality, accredited, and licensed child care programs. This program provides resources as well as training to family and center-based child care staff and the families they serve," says Mary Coster, program director for the Inclusive Child Care Training Program.

With an estimated 50,000 Maryland children with special needs whose families require child care services, the Inclusive Child Care Training Program truly is meeting a crucial need in the community.

"Many providers will share with us that they have no training in special needs and they can't take care of these children," says Meena Gafaar, president of the Prince George's County Family Childcare Association. "This training has enlightened these providers and shown them that they can take care of these children."

Currently, the program offers 40 different courses and more than 4,000 child care professionals have received training.

Christina Lease, director of the New Beginnings Christian Learning Center, has her entire staff go through the training.

"The trainers are well educated in the field and they're very helpful. They have a flexible schedule, they come in on evenings when we need it," she says. "Our staff is very excited [about] the training. They're asking when the next one's coming."