Looking for someone to look after your child with special needs is a stressful scenario – not only must you find someone who clicks with your child, but you must also feel trust in their abilities to give you peace of mind.
Here are four tips for finding a caregiver for special needs children:
1. Look And Ye Shall Find
Don’t rely on one interaction, have a few meetings. It’ll take a little longer but you’ll be fishing in a deeper ocean of potential caregivers for your special needs child.
2. Talking, Seeing
Once you have a selection of candidates, initiate a phone conversation. You want to go over their resume – and make sure they can speak with ease about times when they have successful done what you are asking them to do
! – and get a feeling for their personality. Not everyone is fabulous over the phone but you should be able to get a vibe from his or her tone and attitude how they might relate to your child. You can also go over the things that musts for you – what’s their first aid accreditation? Do they drive? Are they time-flexible in case of an emergency (i.e.: sudden school closings, evening or morning appointments)? Are they comfortable with service animals? Do they have any limitations for lifting a child? Once they pass this test on your comfort scale, move onto the in-person interview.
If you can, schedule time with just you and the potential hire. Before getting down to the minutia of the job, discuss their reasons for applying. Take time to hear about their philosophy regarding the care of children with special needs. Do they have personal experience in their family – whether it’s a person with Autism or not – with someone differently abled? This is a great way to hear about the kind of person they are and how they might relate to your child.
A great way to get insight to a person’s “fit” in your household would be to pose a scenario to them. A “What if?” – maybe it’s something that’s happened to you and your child, or perhaps it’s something you are concerned about. “What if my child gets stressed out while you are driving?” “What if he gets into an altercation with another child at the playground?” You’re listening for not just what you might do – but a really great answer you may never have thought of!
4. Reference Check and Recheck
“Check their references” is a box to tick off when hiring any candidate but when you are seeking a caregiver for your special needs child, you need to ask more specific questions than just a confirmation of when they worked for that person.
You want to speak to a candidate over the phone before considering that box checked. Getting a sense of what the candidate did for that person – particularly the abilities and personalities of children they worked with – is going to be helpful for you when it comes to expectations. A mother’s helper who is used to having a parent in the home might not be comfortable eight hours a day on their own.
Fathers and mothers of special needs children balance so much – and finding the right caregiver is high on the stress list. The right process beforehand can deliver peace of mind when you make that hire!