There are approximately 1.3 million American childcare workers, some of whom specialize in care for children with disabilities. Their responsibilities vary with training, experience, and the requirements of the job. Basic childcare responsibilities can includes communication with parents, physical care, grooming meal preparation, maintaining records, supervision of learning and recreational activities.Childcare workers can function as part of a team that provides sophisticated cares for infants, children and adolescents with disabilities.These disabilities can reflect complex medical conditions such as spina bifida, cerebral palsy and autism. Coordination of care with nurses, physicians and a variety of therapists is integral to the role of childcare worker when a child lives with serious disability.
Childcare workers can be found in a number of private and public settings. Approximately 70% of childcare workers are employed, many in childcare centers, preschools, therapeutic educational settings and public schools. Some childcare workers care for small groups of children in their own homes. Other childcare works are self-employed as babysitters or nannies who care for individual children or siblings in their employer’s home.
In many states, certification is required for childcare workers other than nannies and babysitters. Although not required by the state, certification is available for nannies through organizations such as the American Council of Nanny Schools. The Council for Professional Recognition offers certification as a Child Development Associate (CDA), the form of certification that is recognized by most states. Some states recognize the designation of Child Care Professional (CCP) that is offered by National Early Childhood Program Accreditation. Both forms of accreditation require a high school diploma, experience with childcare, and the successful completion of a course of formal education.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Easter Seals and the ARC are some of the organizations that offer valuable education for childcare workers who specialize in children with disabilities.
All childcare workers will benefit from formal training in CPR, first aid and water safety. Certification is offered by the American Red Cross and other organizations.