Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Children, Youth and Families

Child Care and Children With Special Needs: Challenges for Low Income Families.


Findings from this mixed methods study include:

  • Parents of young children with special needs face significant challenges finding and keeping child care arrangements for their child.
  • Parents report significant problems with the child care arrangements they have used for their child with special needs.
  • There are significant programmatic and financial barriers to supporting parents of children with special needs so they can work, and balance work and family.
  • The combination of all of these problems and the particular demands of caring for a child with special needs often result in employment problems and job instability.
  • Families of children with special needs face more economic difficulties (poverty, food and rent insecurity, lack of health insurance) than do families of children without special needs.
  • Certain types of disabilities have a greater impact on the number of child care and work problems than others.
  • Having a child with multiple special needs or having more than one child with special needs significantly increases the likelihood of employment difficulties and job instability.

Suggested Citation: Ward H, Morris L, Oldham E, et al.  Child Care and Children With Special Needs: Challenges for Low Income Families.  Portland, ME: University of Southern Maine, Muskie School of Public Service, Cutler Institute for Child and Family Policy; December 2006.

Publication Type: 
Publish Date: 
December 1, 2006

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