A Daycare for Special Needs Kids

 
by News Channel 8's Jocelyn Maminta, Watertown-WTNH, June 14, 2004

Selecting the right daycare is a challenge for any parent, but more so for parents of special needs children. There are only a few childcare centers equipped and staffed to do the job.

Playing with other kids is part of growing up, but four-year-old Jared Rollo has to learn how to share and communicate with children his own age. His mother Rebecca Rollo says Jared's behavioral issues require special attention other daycare centers could not handle.

"I was looking for someone that can take care of him, someone who can teach him things learn to share, learn the ability to reason with other people," Rebecca said.

She found Cathy Wickline, owner of Kangaroos Korner in Watertown, who acts as a case manager for desperate families like Jared's.

"There are a lot of programs out there," Wickline says. "It's just hard to know where the programs are and which ones are the good programs."

Wickline is an occupational therapist. She began this non-profit facility to welcome children of all abilities. "I have children with special needs. I know what it's like to be alone out there and not have the connections."

This session has Jared trying to better connect with other children. Wickline says eye contact and learning to take turns are key to improving Jared's social skills.

"We started off by looking at different therapy programs that can do some occupational and physical therapy with him, evaluate his overall development and to see if there's a problem with his development."

Rebecca Rollo says, "my son has done a total complete 180. He is very nice. He shares with the kids. He's learning everyday tasks that sometimes I cannot do because I work full-time."

That's progress in only three months. Now Jared is getting building blocks to a brighter future.

Currently a third of the students at Kangaroo's Corner have behavioral to physical needs. Cathy Wickline is looking to start an outreach program to train daycare centers in the Waterbury area.