Some early childhood and afterschool practitioners provide particular services to children with special needs or to families under stress. In addition to the core knowledge and skills in early childhood and afterschool fields, they have specialty knowledge and skills in health, mental health, human services, and/or special education. Many have advanced degrees in fields such as special education, social work, nursing, occupational or physical therapy, speech pathology, play therapy, psychology, counseling and other fields.
These specialists work in a variety of settings. They work with children and families and they consult with programs, with other professionals and with other staff who work with the children and families every day. They may be employed by:
- Public schools
- Early childhood programs
- Maternal child health programs
- Regional offices of state agencies such as Mental Health, Health Department, Department of Disabilities and Aging, and DCF District offices
- Other community not-for-profit and private programs
They work together as a team with other professionals and the family to coordinate services, support the child’s development and meet the goals of the family and child.
School age children (kindergarten – 12) with special needs are most often served by the staff of public schools (teachers, special educators, specialists, nurses, counselors, paraprofessionals, contractors and others). They may also coordinate with other community services and regional state offices that serve the family. These professionals may partner with afterschool program staff to meet common goals for the child.
Young children (birth up to 6) with special needs and their families are served primarily through: