Faced with the often impossible task of finding suitable, stable child care for their special needs child, many parents are nevertheless forced by economic necessity to join the labor force. Despite the higher incidence of disabilities and chronic health problems among low income children, surprisingly little research has been done about the experiences of these families in balancing work and family.
In a three-year study focused on access to child care, we also examined the related issues of welfare reform, the impact of having a child with special needs on work force participation, and coordination of early intervention services under the Individuals with Disabilities Act with the child care system.
Our goal was to understand issues facing low income families with children with special needs across the programs and policies affecting their employment, access to child care and meeting the special needs of their children. To do this we:
- conducted focus groups of parents and individual, in-depth interviews with child care and other service providers who interact with this population;
- conducted a statewide survey of child care providers and parents of children with special needs; and
- analyzed data from the National Survey of America's Families to examine national labor force patterns for this population.
We used our findings to develop and distribute a DVD to educate employers about the work challenges for this population and the workplace policies that can support them in their employment.
Find more information at: http://muskie.usm.maine.edu/specialneeds