Daycare Scare – What Do You Do When Daycare Doesn’t Want Your Kid – Part 1

I got the email today. The one I’ve been waiting for for the past 10 weeks. The one from my daughter’s daycare saying they are “concerned” about being able to continue to provide a safe environment for her while at the same time meeting the needs of all the other kids in her room.

Are you reading between the lines too?

Let me translate for you… Unlike typical children, your daughter requires more specialized attention than what we can provide; i.e. she is too much for us to handle. You need to find alternative child care arrangements.

Sigh….. (and some silent tears too)

You’re probably wondering what our backstory is. Allow me to share…

My daughter, Kendall, has Down syndrome. Close to Christmas, she’ll turn 10. She’s our only child.

We didn’t know about her diagnosis during my pregnancy. And up until the time that I did learn about it, I really had no knowledge of or experience with Down syndrome. That, of course, all changed once the diagnosis was confirmed. But, probably the biggest thing I’ve learned about raising my daughter is that the learning, the fight, the frustration, the advocacy, the joy, the tears….for better or worse, they never stop.

So back in May when Kendall’s school contacted me to share that she would be going to a new school for the 2017-2018 school year, I knew the cycle was going to start again.

Because of the change in schools, we were now required to find a new daycare.

For families with neuro-typical children, finding a new daycare center is hopefully no big deal, especially if you have a lot of options. You visit a few, find one that you like, ask some questions –

  • Do you bus to my child’s school?
  • What are your hours?
  • Do you provide meals?
  • What are your prices?
  • Can you keep my child alive until pick him or her up?

Yes, to all of the above! Great!

Sign the papers, leave the kid, and you’re out the door. Oh, how I envy you….

For us, finding childcare for Kendall is like a stealth, undercover operation.

There are site visits. There are interviews. There are very pointed and strategic questions asked. There are “if this, then what?” scenarios launched into the fray. Finally, we narrow it down to a couple of options. And then come the trial days.

With my barometer, my mom radar, in full operating mode, I will leave my child for a period of 2-4 hours to “test out” the centers still remaining on our short list.

I usually have an instinct about each center. And during drop off on these “test days,” if I get emotional and tear up when leaving the facility, it’s a good bet my mom radar has been triggered. In less than an hour, I will find myself pulling into the parking lot and hurrying inside to rescue my precious cargo.

Napping in the milk jug igloo

Kendall has of course survived and is completely fine. But I never go against my gut. God gave us mothers this beautiful gift known as maternal instinct and I learned early on in this journey to pay attention to it! 🙂

But I digress. Back to the situation at hand….

So in the middle of May, I found myself beginning the hunt. My mission? Find a daycare that met our basic needs (hours, price, etc.) but that was willing and able to care for my daughter who has a few extra needs than the children daycares typically care for.

Kendall doesn’t have any major medical needs but she does have some behavioral challenges that can make her inclusion in a group of typical friends difficult at times (mostly for the adults who may not quite be sure what to make of her and/or how to best mentor her).

There are a lot of daycares that will give us the “canned” answers… “Of course we accept children with special needs!” “We’ll do whatever it takes to make her time here successful!” And the like…

The reality can be quite different.

However, during those few weeks of May, we were successful in finding a new daycare that was genuinely excited and prepared to welcome Kendall once school let out for the summer.

Both the Director and Assistant Director had experience with kiddos with special needs, the class ratios were small which offered more individualized attention for all the kids, and the facility was beautiful. (Indoor muscle room, separate cafeteria, the works! Woot, woot!)

I was relieved and excited to find a place that seemed perfect. The variable in all this is my daughter. A few weeks in, will everything still be rosy? The short answer: Probably not.

Now, roughly 10 weeks later I had finally gotten the email that I always wait to receive any time we switch to a new child care center. Are they kicking us out? Has a parent complained? Or, can the teachers just not handle her anymore?

I can’t answer these questions yet. We are waiting to meet with the Director to find out. So for now, what I do is wait. Try not to panic. And try not to let my daughter see my sadness and aching heart.

Stay tuned. Wish us luck. And, keep us in your prayers.