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How do I...choose the right childcare for my child?

Photo: There are lots of childcare options to choose from

Finding and choosing childcare that works for you and your child can be challenging for any parent. But as the parent of a deaf child, there are some other issues you’ll need to think about. We asked parents to share how they picked the right childcare.

Craig is dad to Thomas (3) who is profoundly deaf and wears cochlear implants.

Choosing the right nursery for Thomas was really important to us. We wanted to make sure he was in an environment that would cater for his needs. We looked at a number of nurseries and chose one because it seemed a calming environment and we got a good feel for the staff when we visited.

The nursery was completely upfront from the start that they had no experience of working with deaf children but they were willing to learn. All the nursery staff received deaf awareness training from our Teacher of the Deaf (ToD) in their own time; they’ve been fantastic.

It took Thomas a couple of weeks to settle in but he’s now thriving and loves the time he spends there. We work with the nursery on a regular basis to make sure we’re all meeting Thomas’s needs. We have an Early Help Assessment meeting led by the nursery every six weeks. This includes Thomas’s ToD, nursery manager, key worker and speech and language therapist. It’s vital to make sure that everyone is working on the same things.

The nursery helped to support extra funding for Thomas to get a teaching assistant to support him an hour a day while in nursery; this has really helped his progress too.

Emma is mum to Toby (6) who is moderately deaf and wears hearing aids.

Toby has attended a council-run play scheme over the school holidays before and he also goes to a childminder before school and one evening a week.

When looking for childcare, I start planning early as really good providers fill up quickly. I do my research and read reviews, especially Ofsted reports. I always ring the provider and discuss Toby and his hearing. Sometimes you’re not talking to the best person, for example the receptionist, so I’ll ask to talk to the leader. I make sure I’m honest that it really matters to me and Toby that they’re deaf aware and he’s made to feel comfortable and at ease in the setting. I’ll also visit if possible so I can see if acoustics may be a problem and how they manage the other children.

I continue communication with the care provider and also with Toby once he starts. If he isn’t happy, I’m sure to raise it.

Amy is mum to Ryan (14) who is profoundly deaf and wears cochlear implants.

Ryan loves to be around people, especially children his own age. Over the years we’ve tried many different types of holiday and after-school clubs but have often found that staff lack deaf awareness skills.

I’m a pushy mum and letting Ryan fade into the background has never been an option. I don’t want him to miss experiences that kids without hearing loss get to do without a second thought. When looking at clubs he can attend, I always check the number of kids in the group, the acoustics of the building, how many children there are per staff member and the welcome or reaction I get when I first call.

For the holidays, we tend to focus now on camps that hold Ryan’s interest and that he can talk about and understand clearly e.g. swimming and sports. I’ve created a personal passport for Ryan with information on how he hears, how his implants work and how to look after them. It includes basic deaf awareness tips. I’ve also offered to talk to the groups so they understand that Ryan can struggle with communication. Children are curious so I find it’s best to be open.

Lorenza is mum to Eliza (3) who is moderately to severely deaf and wears hearing aids.

When I was pregnant we viewed many nurseries with the aim of me returning to work. Instantly on viewing one nursery, we knew it was the one for our baby. But when she was born Eliza was diagnosed with CHARGE syndrome and hearing loss so nursery was the last thing on our minds. Before she was due to start, the nursery reached out to me. I explained the challenges Eliza had overcome and expressed my concerns about her attending now, but they went above and beyond to reassure me it was still an option for us.

After many meetings, Eliza started just after her first birthday. Due to her other medical needs, 1:1 support was put in place. The settling in period had its ups and downs and she took time to adjust to the noise level, in particular the other children crying. They’ve put in place lots of techniques to overcome these challenges, they take her for regular sessions alone to do structured activities and they funded staff to achieve Level 1 British Sign Language.

Since starting nursery she has made so much progress with her communication. Taking the leap to send Eliza to nursery turned out to be the most wonderful decision we could have made.