Finding a special needs caregiver | Sittercity (2023)

If you’ve ever searched for a new sitter for your child, than you know how difficult of a task it can be — especially if you don’t have a family member who can stand in. Add in the variable of a special needs child or child with multiple disabilities where day care isn’t an option, and the task gets even harder. But with a little effort and planning, it’s easier to find a special needs caregiver with the right skills and experience to care for your special needs child.

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Assess Your Needs

Before beginning the interview process it’s wise to take a few minutes and write down a description of the special needs caregiver position. Remember what you need and what you’re looking for in a caregiver:

  • Hours and days of work: Will they be set times or flexible?
  • Care setting: Will it be in your home, the caregiver’s home or in a community setting?
  • What will the basic responsibilities of the caregiver be: Personal care, transportation, assistance with learning, recreation, life skills training, etc.
  • Clearly-defined expectations: Will the caregiver need to also care for siblings or take care of household tasks?
  • Any special skills and interests: Previous experience caring for a special needs child, the ability to lift, first aid knowledge, CPR training, etc.
  • Other characteristics like whether or not the caregiver is a smoker, whether you prefer a male or female special needs caregiver, etc.
  • Know what range of pay you’ll offer and how long of a commitment you need.

Qualities to Look For in a Special Needs Caregiver

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When it comes to choosing the right caregiver for your special needs child, it’s all about having the right skills and finding the right fit between the caregiver and your family.

It’s important for prospective caregivers to be able to handle everyday tasks like bathing, feeding and caring for your child, but that’s not all. The right caregiver should have experience caring for special needs children including special needs training, being properly versed in child safety and medical care. This is where knowing your child comes into play. Things like Red Cross certification and CPR training are important characteristics for special needs caregivers to have, as is experience working with adaptive equipment, but it all depends on the needs of your child.

Nearly half of special needs caregivers help children with at least one Activity of Daily Living (ADL), so it’s important that potential special needs caregivers are comfortable with and capable of performing ADLs for your child. The most common ADLs that are performed for special needs children under the age of 18 are basic grooming tasks like getting dressed, bathing or showering, and getting in and out of beds and chairs.

Aside from experience caring for special needs children, it’s important for the prospective caregiver’s personality to mesh well with your child’s and the rest of your family. That’s where the interview and screening process comes in.

The Interview: What to Ask Potential Special Needs Caregivers

When it comes to screening and interviewing potential special needs caregivers, honest dialogue and open communication is key. This is not the time to rush; this is your chance as a parent to fully assess potential caregivers and see how they respond to your questions.

To fully prepare for interviewing potential caregivers, we advise preparing a special needs caregiver interview checklist. This is where you should make note of the key questions you want to ask during the interview, as well as what documents and information you need from the interviewee like references or copies of special needs caregiving certifications.

Before setting up the special needs caregiver face-to-face, it’s important to hold a phone screening. This way, if the candidate’s personality or communication style doesn’t work for you, you won’t have to waste your time holding a face-to-face interview.

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  • Briefly describe the position and inquire about the candidate’s interest. Why are they interested in caring for your special needs child?
  • Ask about other commitments the candidate may have to get an idea of their availability and commitment.
  • Keep the key issues in mind: suitability, reliability, motivation and commitment.
  • Take notes on each person! Don’t rely on your memory.
  • If the candidate passes your screening and you’re ready to meet face-to-face, ask them to provide up to three references and a recent criminal background check.
  • Don’t be afraid to end calls quickly with people who are obviously not going to work out.

If the potential special needs caregiver passes your phone screening, it’s time to schedule a face-to-face interview. Be sure to ask the interviewee open-ended questions that use real-life examples. For instance, ask the potential special needs caregiver what they would do if faced with certain real-life challenges like teasing, tantrums and medical emergencies. By asking open-ended questions you’ll glean insight on how the potential caregiver’s thought process works and where their intentions lie. A few sample situations you can use as examples are:

  • “My child is crying and inconsolable. What do you do?”
  • “You and my child are out for a walk when he/she has a seizure right after leaving the house. What do you do?”
  • “You and my child are at the mall/in public somewhere when a group of young people begin to tease my child. What do you do?”

A parent’s work is not done when the interview is finished. After selecting several potential special needs caregivers for your child, it’s time to perform a background check. Most special needs caregivers will already have a background check on file, but for some you will need to ask. Sitter and caregiver agencies often offer the ability to request background checks, or you can go through your specific state’s Office of Children and Families to see what different background checks and caregiver programs are available.

How to Check References Without Being Awkward

Nobody looks forward to calling up strangers and checking work references, but that doesn’t mean the reference checking process has to be a painful one. It helps to have your notes out so you can follow-up on any questions you had about the applicant’s limitations and strengths.

Ask effective questions about the candidate’s experience as a special needs caregiver:

  • How do you and the applicant know each other?
  • How long have you and the applicant known each other?
  • What can you tell me about the applicant’s reliability?
  • How does the applicant handle emergencies? Can you give me an example?
  • What are the applicant’s strengths and limitations?
  • How would you feel if the applicant was caring for your special needs child?

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If Your Child Will Be Cared For at the Caregiver’s Home

While caregivers of children with special needs are more likely to live with the child care recipient, your child may receive care at the your caregiver’s home from time to time. In the event that the special needs caregiver will be caring for your child in their own home, you should set up a home visit to assess the environment. In these cases it’s perfectly acceptable to schedule more than one home visit, as well as requesting to meet all the family members who live in the home.

When visiting the special needs caregiver’s home, be sure to look for:

  • Proper safety measures like fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, an escape plan, etc.
  • A clean, safe environment.
  • A private changing and dressing area.
  • An accessible, clean bathroom.
  • Comfortable, appropriate sleeping/nap time arrangements.
  • Safe play spaces for both indoor and outdoor activities.
  • Various learning materials and toys.

Questions to ask when visiting potential special needs caregivers’ homes:

  • Who else lives in the home with you?
  • Do you have any pets?
  • Is anyone else likely to be in the home when you’re caring for my child?
  • Are there any smokers in the home?

My Potential Special Needs Caregiver Checked Out. Now What?

Finally, and most importantly, it’s time to see how your child reacts to the potential new special needs caregiver and how the two of them interact. The right caregiver will respect your child, and treat your child as if they were a member of the caregiver’s own family. Sometimes even though things look perfect on paper, they won’t work in practice. Trust your intuition when it comes to assessing the personality and fit of a potential special needs caregiver. Look for people who:

  • Seem to enjoy children.
  • Are responsive and always positive.
  • Have a similar approach to discipline and problem solving.
  • Are respectful and considerate of differences.
  • Are open to learning, training and direction.
  • Believe in promoting typical family and friend experiences, as well as independence.
  • Can pursue activities your child is interested in.
  • Are open and clear communicators.

Once you’ve found the right special needs caregiver for your child it’s time to draft an employment agreement. Employment agreements may sound a little formal but take our word for it, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Employment agreements for special needs caregivers are essential in helping families clarify roles, and to protect the interests of both the family and the special needs caregiver. Employment agreements must be written and should contain:

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  • A detailed description of the services to be provided, as well as how often.
  • Date that the care begins.
  • How much and when the special needs caregiver will be compensated.
  • Signatures of all parties involved.
  • The date of the agreement

Finding the right special needs caregiver may not be an easy task, but with the tools we’ve provided here you can begin your search for a new special needs caregiver with confidence.

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Additional Special Needs Caregiver Resources

If you’re looking for more information related to special needs caregivers for your child, or would like to find out what kind of government resources are available, here are several places you can check:

Child Care –

(Video) Life With Our Undiagnosed Special Needs Children | On The Red Dot | Undiagnosed - Part 1

United States Office of Personnel Management’s Child Care Resources Handbook


What is a special needs caretaker called? ›

Special Needs Caregiver/Direct Support Professional (DSP)

What tasks do special needs caregivers do? ›

Special Needs Caregivers provide support with daily tasks to disabled clients. Activities such administering medicine, serving meals, running errands, providing companionship, helping with bathing, and reporting to family members as are often seen on Special Needs Caregiver resume samples.

What is respite care for child Texas? ›

Respite services can include in-home services, family day out events, and parents' night out events. Many of these opportunities offer not only a break for the caregivers, but a much needed break for the children as well. Opportunities will vary based on your child's diagnoses, age, and abilities.

How do you babysit multiple kids at once? ›

Babysitting Twins & 10 Tips for Managing Multiples
  1. How Much Should I Charge for Multiples? ...
  2. Try to Meet the Kids Before Your First Sitting. ...
  3. Don't Be Afraid to Give Them Nametags. ...
  4. Start With the Right Activity. ...
  5. Minimize All Distractions. ...
  6. All Siblings Fight. ...
  7. Don't Play Favorites. ...
  8. Keep Your Eyes On Both—Always.
May 6, 2015

What are 4 types of caregivers? ›

Are you looking for a caregiver? Then you should know your options. In general, there are four types of caregivers: Home Health Care, Assisted Living Facilities, Nursing Homes, and Adult Daycare Centers.

How much does a child with autism get from SSI? ›

How much will my child's potential monthly SSI benefit be? Every SSI recipient's monthly payment starts at a total benefit amount deemed by their state and is lowered by their “countable income.” The full federal monthly benefit is $841 (2022).

What does a caregiver do with autism? ›

They are responsible for assistance with toileting, dressing, feeding, therapy, transportation to appointments, and so much more. This is usually on top of other household responsibilities such as cleaning, cooking, keeping track of finances, and running errands.

What do patients with special needs include? ›

Special needs can range from people with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, dysgraphia, blindness, deafness, ADHD, and cystic fibrosis. They can also include cleft lips and missing limbs.

What are the benefits of home care for adults with special needs? ›

Improves Quality of Life
  • Household tasks.
  • Personal care and hygiene.
  • Recreational and community activities.
  • Managing medications.
  • Groceries and errands.
  • Meal preparation.
  • Assistance with mobility and ambulation.

Can I get paid for taking care of my special needs child Texas? ›

Yes; in Texas, there are both state and federal programs that pay family members to care for a loved one.

Who pays for respite care children? ›

Some local authorities often pay for respite care. Some parents apply for grants or pay themselves, if they can.

How much does Texas pay for respite care? ›

As of Feb 16, 2023, the average annual pay for the Respite Care jobs category in Texas is $19,358 a year.

What is the number one rule in babysitting? ›

Rule #1: Must be CPR-certified

Before hiring a sitter, ask if she is CPR-certified, recommends Certification is fairly simple to obtain and will give inexperienced sitters the knowledge she needs to keep your child safe.

How many kids can one person watch in their home? ›

and you notify each parent that you are caring for 2 additional school-age children and that there may be up to 7 or 8 children in the home at one time.

What age should you babysit other kids? ›

Getting Your Preteen Ready for Babysitting

Some children have the maturity to start babysitting as early as age 12 or 13. Others are better off waiting until they're older teenagers. Before you let your tween babysit, demand the same qualifications that you would from any babysitter you are considering hiring.

What are the 3 C's of caregiving? ›

Paramount among these are the "3Cs": consistency, continuity, and coordination of patient care.

What are the 3 R's of caregiving? ›

The 3R's all healthcare professionals need to know - Rest, Rehydrate, Refuel. Working in a hospital, your main focus is often the health of your patients. You may even be letting your own health take a backseat as you give all your attention to their care.

What is the difference between a caretaker and a caregiver? ›

A caregiver refers to someone who directly cares for the elderly, children, or people with serious illnesses. On the other hand, a caretaker's job is broader, such as being employed to take care of the house or land while the owner is away and someone who provides physical or emotional care and support.

Do parents of autistic kids get money? ›

Yes, there is a large amount of financial aids and benefits available to parents of children with autism. Some are from sources such as the Social Security Administration, Medicaid, insurance, educational support, and grants.

How much money do parents get for an autistic child? ›

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for special needs

Children on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) receive $791 per month. In most states, a child eligible for SSI will also be eligible for Medicaid. To qualify for SSI, the child must have "marked and severe functional limitations," as determined by medical evidence.

How much is the average Social Security check for autism? ›

So, how much is a disability check for autism? There isn't a simple answer to this question because every child and their parents will be treated as an individual case, and this will impact how much they receive each month. Currently, the full benefit amount is $841 a month.

Do people with autism need a caregiver? ›

Family caregivers frequently play a significant role in providing support for people with autism. These unpaid caregivers require assistance to continue caring for people with autism – both children and adults – living in the community.

What ability do those with autism care deeply but lack? ›

Children and adults with autism spectrum disorder often care deeply but lack the ability to spontaneously develop empathic and socially connected typical behavior. Individuals with ASD often want to socially interact but lack the ability to spontaneously develop effective social interaction skills.

Who takes care of people with autism? ›

Social workers support families and individuals to cope in their everyday lives. A specialist autism social worker is often employed by a government agency or self-help group to help and support parents of autistic children.

What are the four major types of special needs disabilities? ›

The four major types of disabilities include physical, developmental, behavioral or emotional, and sensory impaired disorders.

What are the three types of special needs? ›

Here are some of the special health care needs or developmental disabilities that occur among children birth through 3: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Behavior Disorders.

What are five common people with special needs? ›

Common Disabilities
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Learning Disabilities.
  • Mobility Disabilities.
  • Medical Disabilities.
  • Psychiatric Disabilities.
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Visual Impairments.
  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

What is the most expensive way to house and care for people with disabilities? ›

Skilled Nursing Facilities (Nursing Homes)

Skilled nursing facilities are incredibly expensive, often costing more than $10,000 a month. In many cases, an individual with severe special needs and minimal assets will qualify for Medicaid coverage that will pay for care in a skilled nursing facility.

What are the cons of home care assistance? ›

The disadvantages of home care:
  • Living at home can still be lonely depending on the level of care received and the family and friends around you.
  • The person's safety could be at risk while they are alone, even if there is technology in place (e.g. emergency alarms may not be pressed)
Jul 29, 2019

What is residential care for adults with disabilities? ›

Residential care

People with disabilities who are unable to live at home may be provided with residential services directly by the HSE or, on its behalf, by voluntary organisations that are funded by the HSE. A residential service is where someone lives most or all of the time.

Will SSI pay you to take care of a family member? ›

Each family member may be eligible for a monthly benefit of up to 50 percent of your disability benefit amount. However, there is a limit to the amount we can pay your family. The total varies, depending on your benefit amount and the number of qualifying family members on your record.

Can a family member be a paid carer? ›

This is possible, but only after a Court of Protection order has been obtained to make sure that the conflict of interest between relative and the carer is managed. For such an application, a care needs assessment must be undertaken, showing what care is needed and the remuneration the carer would be entitled to.

How much do you get paid as a caregiver for a family member in Texas? ›

The caregiving family member will be paid the hourly rate determined by the VA, typically $8-$21 per hour.

How many weeks free respite care are you allowed? ›

An example of short- term care is where you are placed in a care home to receive respite care, possibly on a regular basis. and it is unlikely to exceed 52 weeks. It can exceed this period in exceptional circumstances, if it is unlikely to 'substantially' exceed 52 weeks.

Does insurance cover respite? ›

Respite care costs

Most insurance plans do not cover these costs. You must pay all costs not covered by insurance or other funding sources. Medicare will cover most of the cost of up to 5 days in a row of respite care in a hospital or skilled nursing facility for a person receiving hospice care.

Is respite free for 6 weeks? ›

Most people who receive this type of care do so for around 1 or 2 weeks, although you get free, short-term care for a maximum of 6 weeks. It will depend on how soon you are able to cope at home. If you need care for longer than 6 weeks, you may have to pay for it.

Does Medicaid cover respite care in Texas? ›

Some government programs, such as those funded by Medicaid, Medicare, Veterans Affairs or the state of Texas may provide free or low-cost respite care.

Who pays for respite care in a care home? ›

Councils will only pay for respite care for people who they've assessed as needing it following a needs assessment and carer's assessment. If you or the person you care for qualifies for respite care, the council will do a financial assessment to work out if it will pay towards it.

What is the monthly stipend for foster care in Texas? ›

A: Financial reimbursement, along with medical and dental coverage, will vary dependant on the needs of the child or children in your care. On average, foster families will receive around $675 per child per month.

What are 3 things not to do while babysitting? ›

12 things you should never do while babysitting
  • Don't take the kids out of the home without permission. ...
  • Don't take or post photos of the kids. ...
  • Don't be on your phone. ...
  • Don't smoke, drink or do drugs. ...
  • Don't make the family's business public. ...
  • Don't watch inappropriate shows or videos.
Mar 18, 2022

What are 3 things you should do when babysitting? ›

Here are some fun and kid-friendly activities to try while babysitting:
  • Create a book. ...
  • Draw with sidewalk chalk. ...
  • Make up a dance. ...
  • Do a scavenger hunt. ...
  • Bake something. ...
  • Play groundsies at the park. ...
  • Make a gift. ...
  • Invent a new game.
Sep 30, 2022

What should nannies not do? ›

Nanny Etiquette: 8 Things You Should Never Do
  • Treat Her Like A Housekeeper. ...
  • Have Her Watch Extra Kids For Free. ...
  • Throw Your Laundry In With Your Kids' ...
  • Be Late For No Good Reason. ...
  • Have Unrealistic Expectations. ...
  • Expect Her To Spot You Cash. ...
  • Make Her Your Stand-in At School. ...
  • Be Way Too Controlling.
Feb 16, 2017

Is a $100 civil penalty for not posting? ›

$100 immediate civil penalty for failure to comply with posting requirements for 30 consecutive days. legal guardian for exercising the right to inspect a facility, or for lodging a complaint against a facility. You will receive an invoice in the mail once administrative appeals have been exhausted.

How many hours should a child be in daycare? ›

The standard recommendation by the AAP is infants and toddlers up to 15 months spend two hours or less in day care, while toddlers from 16 to 24 months can spend up to four hours each day. Older children from 3 to 5 should spend only four to five hours at a time.

Is daycare better than stay at home for child development? ›

The take home message...

Children who attend child care have the same outcomes as children who are cared for at home. Whether a child attends daycare or not, it is the family that has a major impact on their child's development, with the parents' interactions with the child being a critically important factor.

What do you call someone who works with special needs kids? ›

Social worker

They can work with children or adults, in a school or school system, at a hospital or at home. Social workers who specifically work with people with special needs help them improve and support their social and psychological functioning, whatever those needs may be.

What is the job title for someone who works with special needs? ›

10 Careers That Work With Children With Special Needs
  • Uncertified Behavior Technicians. ...
  • Board-Certified Behavior Analysts. ...
  • Registered Behavior Technicians. ...
  • Direct Support Professionals. ...
  • Behavior Interventionists. ...
  • Speech-Language Pathologists. ...
  • ABA Clinical Supervisors. ...
  • Autism Behavior Technicians.
Oct 18, 2022

What is a special ed helper called? ›

Alternatives to Special Ed Teacher

Intervention Specialist. Exceptional Education Teacher. Accessible Education Teacher. Accessibility Specialist. Learning Specialist.

What is a person who needs care called? ›

Client or patient if the arrangement is more health/wellness based. If the caretaker is a lay person, (e.g. a home aide) I'd use client. If a nurse or other medically trained professional, then patient is more appropriate.


1. Hidden camera reveals abuse by care home staff of dementia patient Ann King
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2. Video Appears To Show Caregiver Assault Woman With Special Needs
(CBS Pittsburgh)
3. The Difficulties of Finding an Assistant as a Disabled Person (Disability Documentary) | Only Human
(Only Human)
4. She gets paid to be her paralyzed boyfriend’s caregiver, but marriage could change that
(Washington Post)
5. HSN | Electronic Connection featuring HP 03.14.2023 - 03 PM
6. Tips for Caregivers - Real Life Tips for Kids With Autism
(Children's Specialized Hospital)


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