Summer and Special Needs:
How to find the Right Fit?
Finding a summer program for child with special needs can be challenging. Not all children qualify for Extended School Year (“ESY”) services and, even those students who do qualify, the ESY programs are generally only a portion of the summer. Here are some general questions that should be considered prior to selecting the program.
-Who will make up the staff? When selecting a summer program for my special needs child, I wanted a program that wasn’t primarily staffed by high school or college students. Instead, I focused on finding summer programming that employed teachers or people who worked with children in the school system.
-How many children will be with each staff member and/or how large are the groupings? Having a lower staff-to-child was important to me as I was concerned that, given my child’s needs, a large group would present problems for him.
-What experience does the program have with children with special needs? And, what type of training does the staff receive? Finding a summer program who not only have experience but also try to train staff will greatly increase the chances of your child have a successful summer program.
-Does the summer program have any accessibility issues? Are there areas/ activities that your child will not have access too due to their physical needs? A tour can usually provide you with a good concept of whether the program will be able to accommodate your child’s physical needs.
Finding a summer program for any child can be difficult and special considerations need to take place when finding a program to ensure your child has an enjoyable, accessible and rewarding summer!
By Heidi Konkler-Goldsmith, Esq., Supervising Partner, Special Education Department, McAndrews Law Offices, P.C.