Who Can Babysit Your Child With Special Needs?

A night out. A weekend away. A special occasion with one of your other children. There are times when you really, really need a babysitter for your child with special needs. But it has to be a babysitter who can handle him. Who knows about her health problems or behavioral struggles. Who will show good judgment when your child can't. Who will keep your child safe against long odds? That's not a job for the teen next door. Who ya gonna call? Here's where to start your search.



Grandmother and Granddaughter

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There may be many family members who you would no more trust with your child's needs than you would a stranger on the street. But if there is a sympathetic relative who has a rapport with your child, that may be a good place to look for child-sitting services. Don't take unfair advantage, but don't be afraid to ask.


Close and Trusted Friends

We're not talking about casual acquaintances here. A friend who is close to your family and your child may welcome an opportunity to spend some quality time. Besides taking care of your child-care emergencies, this is a good way to create deep bonds between your child and those surrogate "uncles" and "aunts."


Child's School

Young teachers may be in the market for a little job on the side, and if there's one you particularly like, it may be worth asking, privately and in no way that jeopardizes anyone's job, whether there's any babysitting availability.

Ask classroom aides if they would be interested in babysitting as they may welcome a chance for some extra income.


Child-Care Provider

The workers who handle your child's needs at a daycare, preschool, or after-school program would likely be able to do that in your home as well. If there's a worker you or your child particularly likes, find a discreet way to ask if they'd possibly be available for occasional babysitting.



Many school speech, occupational, and physical therapists are young, fresh from school, and paying off student loans. Although there may again be some conflict of interest in their seeing a child out of school, it doesn't hurt to check if they'd be interested in child-watching jobs over the summer if not during the school year.


House of Worship

Asking around among members of your worship community may help you find out about experienced parents who are looking for extra work to help their children pay for college or to supplement the family income. Putting an ad in a church bulletin or newspaper may also be a good tactic. Be up-front about your child's special needs.


Nearby College

If a college near you has a special education program, or one for speech, physical, or occupational therapy — anything for which students need to gain experience with special-needs children — call the offices of those programs and see if there are students close to graduation, with some skills in dealing with special kids, who would appreciate the opportunity to work informally with yours.


Support Group

The moms in your support group are likely too busy taking care of their own challenging children to watch yours, too. But they may have found good babysitting resources in your community that they can share with you. Can't hurt to ask.


State or Local Respite Services

Respite services provide professionals to watch your child while you get a night or weekend off. The ARCH National Respite Network can help you find services in your area. Go to the National Respite Locator to find services in your community.


Your Own Tired Spouse

It ruins date night for sure, but if finding someone outside the immediate family proves to be impossible, see if you can at least alternate so that each of you gets time off — and time in, being the exclusive caretaker and playmate. A weekly coffee out with a friend or half-hour at the gym can do a lot to refresh and relax you. Take what you can get.

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