Bridgeport parents of son with autism struggles to find day care

Steven Hyatt and Nicole James say three day cares in the city turned them away because their son is "too difficult to care for."

News 12 Staff

Feb 18, 2023, 5:39 PM

Updated 455 days ago


A Bridgeport couple says they are struggling to find day care for their son who has autism due to his violent outbursts.
Steven Hyatt and Nicole James' 2-year-old son Steve wears a protective helmet because he tends to spin and thrash around, hurting himself in the process.
They say three day cares in the city turned them away because he is "too difficult to care for."
"Sad, frustrated, can't do much," James says. "It's hard."
They say Steve's behavior has landed him in the hospital on several occasions and now has to be closely monitored around the clock.
"He'll bang his head, he'll get frustrated, he don't like loud noise, he don't know how to play with other kids, he don't even play with his toys," James says.
Because the day cares turned them down, the couple says they have been caring for Steven around the clock without ever getting a break.
"Well, I feel disappointed. It is very frustrating with my wife. She's going through a lot and me being at work," Hyatt says.
Early childhood care specialist Jisel Cordero, who works for a major Connecticut school system, says that no day care should ever have turned this family away without first having referred them to somebody who could help, as required by law.
"No child should be turned away. Every child deserves accessible education," Cordero says. "My heart breaks for every family in this situation, especially our Black and brown minorities in this community who don't always have the power or the knowledge to seek the resources within their own community because they just don't know they're there."
Day care owner Alina Gutierrez also agrees with Cordero.
"I feel this is something that needs to be put out there," Gutierrez says.
News 12 Connecticut put the experts in touch with Steven's family and they have now vowed to help get the child the care he needs.
"They do need help and the help is there," Cordero says.
She adds that it is a violation of both state and federal law for a day care to refuse services based on the disability of a child. She says doing so is "a flagrant example of discrimination."
A GoFundMe has been set up to help the couple. 

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