The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a law that protects people from discrimination based on disability. This law says that public accommodations must be accessible to people with disabilities.

Child Care and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

What is Required:

Under the law, privately-run child care centers and family child care homes are considered public accommodations and must comply with the ADA.

Reasonable Modifications:

In order to serve children with disabilities, the ADA requires child care providers to make reasonable modifications required to accommodate children with disabilities. This means making changes that are accomplished without excessive difficulty or expense. Whether a change is unduly burdensome is determined by the type and cost of what is needed in light of the resources available to individual child care centers and homes. Some possible accommodations may include:

  • Revision of policies and procedures or curriculum adaptations
  • Additional staff training
  • Removal of physical barriers
  • Clearly stated rules and expectations. Provide logical and natural consequences that relate directly to a child’s specific actions.
  • Try different ways to communicate. When you are getting ready to read to the group, show a photo of children sitting together for story time, or use a picture of the outdoors to let children know that the group is going outside.
  • Answer children’s questions in a straightforward manner. For example, if a child asks you, “Why doesn’t Susie talk?” say, “Susie doesn’t talk because she doesn’t hear like you. She hasn’t had a chance to learn to talk with words. Susie is learning to use her hands to talk.”
  • Give positive attention to children when they try new activities, play well with others, show creativity, or make progress in learning new concepts and skills.
  • Take time to build a relationship with each child in your care.

Additional Information about the Americans with Disabilities Act

  1. The U.S. Department of Justice publication “Commonly Asked Questions about Child Care and the Americans with Disabilities Act” is online at
  2. The Department of Justice provides information about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) through a toll-free ADA Information Line. This service permits businesses, state and local governments, or others to call and ask questions about general or specific ADA requirements including questions about the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.
  3. ADA Specialists are available Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) except on Thursday when the hours are 12:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. Spanish language service is also available. For general ADA information, answers to specific technical questions, free ADA materials, or information about filing a complaint, call: (800) 514-0301 (voice) or (800) 514-0383 (TTY).