A young girl with Down syndrome is outdoors. She's standing inside a rock structure and smiling.

Around the country, families are struggling to find and afford child care, and child care centers are struggling to keep their doors open. Half the country lives in child care deserts, where the number of kids under age five far exceeds the child care slots available.

Families of children with disabilities face even greater challenges to finding care due to inaccessible child care centers.

Recently, Tonya from Texas shared the challenges her family has faced with finding child care for her daughter, who has Down syndrome.

“In November 2022, we enrolled our daughter, who was six years old at the time, to receive after school care at a child care center that was being built in our neighborhood. My daughter needs constant supervision and is not potty trained. We’ve been turned down from multiple centers in the past, so we were excited and also worried about any issues that may come up.”

A young girl with Down syndrome is wearing headphones and hugging her mom.

Tonya exchanged several emails and phone calls with the center director. She was assured the center would be able to provide care for her daughter and felt they had done a great job in addressing all of her concerns.

But the week her daughter started, Tonya was called to the center three times. She was asked to pick her child up because she had eloped. Elopement, or wandering away from a safe area or trusted person, is a behavior exhibited by some children with autism, Down syndrome, intellectual disability, anxiety, and ADHD.

“After the third call, I was informed that the center didn’t have adequate staff to provide constant supervision for my daughter. I was also told she was hitting other kids and would not be permitted to return… In the end, this ray of hope was a right disaster. Where, exactly, can I send her then? Right now, her dad and I do our best to keep an eye on her while we finish our workdays. And with many high school students wanting $15–20 an hour for babysitting, we can’t afford a regular babysitter.”

“Finding child care should not be this hard. It’s exhausting and disheartening, and it’s demeaning to our daughter.”

Join us and tell Congress to make child care for children with disabilities a priority today.

The post Tonya’s Struggle to Find Child Care for Her Daughter appeared first on The Arc.