Here in The Hello Clinic, we pick a theme each month. In February, we focused on favorite ways to play. Easy-peasy. I get that. (By the way, “Model Building” was the big winner. Thanks to all of our in-office clients for voting!)

This March, it’s “wraparound.” If you’re like me, you might guess that “wraparound” is an item of clothing. And we’d be wrong. However, it’s useful to think of an item of clothing, such as a scarf or sweater, wrapping around a child, or a family.

IMG_2822

Here at the clinic, we have speech language pathologists and an occupational therapist who see our kids regularly. In addition to providing therapy, we communicate with parents and grandparents, siblings, other caregivers, teachers and other professional providers in a child’s life. We are some of many people in a child’s sphere, helping them achieve their highest potential. These are wraparound services. The child is at the center, and all of our services wrap around that child and his or her needs.

Now, let’s add someone else to your child’s circle of supportive people and services: your boss.

Did I just lose you there? A parent’s employer isn’t often who we think of as a provider of support for a child or a family experiencing disability. But when you think about it, an employer holds tremendous power and can make a big difference.

How? Jack Craver on BenefitsPro shares some valuable ideas on how employers can help their employees’ children with special-needs (be advised that BenefitsPro.com requires you to register on their website in order to read the entire article). A primary way of helping is with flexible scheduling. This allows the employee to continue to work while also being able to get their child to the services they need (which may conflict with work schedules). The article prompts some questions for parents to consider:

  • Does your employer offer flexible scheduling?
  • Does your employer act as a “resource navigator”?
  • Does your employer allow you to grow in your career while still allowing the necessary time and attention you need to raise a child with special needs?
  • Does your boss allow you to open up about the challenges and responsibilities of raising a child with special needs?

How does your employer measure up on these questions? Believe it or not, there are employers out there that are incredibly supportive of their employees and their caregiving needs. These employers are active partners in wraparound services for kids. In fact, providing this sort of flexibility is even mandated by federal anti-discrimination law. If your employer isn’t so great, check out these resources from the disability rights attorneys at Wright’s Law for more information about your rights and what you can do about it. Talk with your employer and find out if there are any services of this type already offered, or that might be useful to you in the future. Because every child and family deserves the biggest possible scarf to wrap around them, right? Right.