It’s often difficult to find a qualified nanny at the best of times. But for parents of children with special needs, it can be especially stressful, as their child may require sophisticated care. In a multi-child household, a nanny may be under considerable pressure to provide services to children whose challenges are very different.
Thankfully, it is not impossible to find a qualified caregiver who is a good match for your family. 68% of the nannies on Canadian Nanny have indicated an interest in caring for a child with special needs. By considering what qualities you desire in a candidate and asking appropriate questions, you can choose the applicant that’s right for your child.
Qualities of a Special Needs Caregiver
It’s important that your caregiver has the skills and background appropriate to take on the task of looking after a special needs child. Probe for information from the candidate about whether they have these qualities:
Your nanny should want to meet the challenge of caring for a child who may require extra attention. If the interest is absent, the nanny may burn out quickly or never provide the level of care to which your child is entitled.
Ideally, your nanny should have worked with special needs children before. A nanny who worked in a special needs daycare, was raised with a special needs sibling, or volunteered with special needs adults may have the necessary exposure to your child’s unique challenges.
Certifications in special needs education may not be required of your nanny, but it may help if they know how to adapt activities to meet your child’s needs. Preferably, they won’t be figuring things out as they go along, with your child’s development suffering as a result.
Your nanny should respect you and your child. They should also understand your goals for your child’s care. As their relationship with your child develops, they should also understand the perspective, feelings, and point of view of your child. As you ask questions of a candidate, use your gut instinct to get a sense of whether respect will be forthcoming.
For More Help on This Topic Read: How to Find Child Care for Children with Special Needs?
Interview Questions to Ask Potential Special Needs Caregivers
As a parent, you will have your own questions for a potential caregiver. These are a few samples to help you cover the bases.
1. Why are you interested in caring for a child with special needs?
Ask the candidate what about the job attracts them. They may give a variety of responses, ranging from their personal backgrounds to a desire to provide care to individuals with more complex needs.
2. How is caring for a child with special needs different than a child without special needs?
This helps you to assess whether the candidate truly understands what the job entails. Hopefully, the applicant has advance knowledge of your child’s circumstances before the interview and can reference it directly.
3. Have you worked with a child with special needs before?
This will provide more information about the applicant’s experience. It also gives you insight into what frustrations the candidate may have, especially if their previous employment did not end well.
4. How do you find this type of work rewarding?
As you ask this question, try to find something unique in the answer that lets you know the candidate is sincere. Hopefully, the work is not burdensome for the caregiver. If they are just looking for a paycheck, they may not last as long as you need.
5. How comfortable are you with following a routine?
Routine is essential for some children with certain diagnoses. Assess whether the candidate understands that sticking to a routine throughout the day is a priority, and that there may be circumstances where their needs may have to be put aside for the sake of the child’s comfort.
6. What are your short term or long term goals?
This gives insight into what your nanny’s future plans may be. If they want to go to graduate school in a few months, you may want to pass them over in favor of a candidate who wants a longer term position.
7. Do you have any further travel plans?
Consistency is often essential for many special needs children. If your nanny plans to stick with the profession for the long term but wants to take a month off to travel, you may want to consider whether your child can handle the temporary change in personnel.
8. Have you ever had an emergency or difficult situation while caring for a child with special needs?
This allows the candidate to show you how they dealt with such an occurrence. If they never have, consider posing a hypothetical question to assess their judgment.
9. Do you have any special training or certificates? Are you willing obtain additional training in order to effectively provide care?
Especially when children require medical assistance, ongoing academic work, or interactive exercises, training and the willingness to receive it is essential to a good match.
10. What is your expected wage?
Caregivers of special needs children earn more than others. Parents should be prepared for this reality and research the going rate for the position prior to the interview.
Overall, parents should be forthcoming about their child’s specific challenges during the interview, so the prospective caregiver can also assess whether they are a good fit. Mention any bathroom work, behavioral issues, or other hands-on work that is required.
Once you have found the nanny whose skills, experience, and interest are the best match for your family, be willing to train, answer questions, and model appropriate care. A positive relationship with your nanny will translate into better care for your child.
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