Childcare Professionals: Suggestions for Assisting Parents and Children during a Divorce

For those entangled in the divorce process, aside from the separated couple, their families and their respective family law attorneys, it is advisable for parents of children currently enrolled in childcare to alert the childcare professional to the situation.

As per the Provider-Parent Partnerships, a network of childcare professionals dedicated to joining with parents to support a child’s overall well-being, believes this to be sound advice.

As divorce is no longer an uncommon event in the lives of children, the Partnership cautions that while some children may be experiencing the loss of the nuclear family or facing the uncertainty of a parent’s plans to remarry, there are steps childcare professionals can employ to ensure the continued fostering of a child’s emotional and psychological health.

Project director, Judith A. Myers-Walls, associate professor and Extension specialist involved with the Department of Child Development and Family Studies (CDFS), funded by a 21st Century Initiative grant underwritten by the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service, Purdue University offers the following suggestions for childcare professionals to fully recognize the emotional needs of children facing the dissolution of their family as well providing several questions to ask of the parents.

Changes in a Child’s Behavior Raises a Red Flag

Parents are busy, even busier and perhaps a bit more harried during a difficult divorce. Myers-Walls suggests that while childcare professionals should be in tune to a child’s typical behavior traits at all times, once the child deviates from these behaviors, this red flag could indicate that the child may be experiencing outside stressors.

If the childcare professional has not been made privy to perhaps a parental separation or divorce, this may be the opportune time to gently broach the situation with the plausible custodial parent.

Maintaining a Safe Haven

Childcare administrators and staff should always strive to provide a safe and loving environment at all times but maintaining this type of comfort is extremely important for the child who may be experiencing changes in the family model. It is important to remember that during a divorce, both parents may be emotionally unavailable. If this is the case, childcare providers could be an important constant for a child while in their care.

Flexibility and the Need for Additional Information

As divorce often causes significant changes in a parent’s schedule, childcare flexibility may prove a life saver. If not yet discussed, confer with the custodial parent to determine if pre-defined schedules need to be re-visited.

Just as it is important for the childcare professional to minimize the risk of liability, it is just as important to seek out the answers to the following questions.

  • Will there be changes in the drop off and pick up schedule of the child?
  • Which parent should be first contacted in the event of an emergency?
  • Will the custodial parent authorize the child leaving with the non-custodial parent?

The US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health agrees. As parental conflict before, during and after a divorce tends to evoke harmful effects on the development of children of divorce, it is imperative that all involved be working hand-in-hand to protect the best interests of the child.

If you are considering divorce, the qualified DuPage County divorce attorneys of the Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio are committed to providing you with clear and concise legal advice but will also work diligently to protect the best interests of you and your family. To schedule your free consultation contact us at 630-920-8855 today.

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