It’s the worst to not be able to work when you’re sick. Why does the daycare have to have such a strict sick child policy? It’s stressful for everyone.
We live in a world where parents, especially women are expected to work like they don’t have kids and raise kids like they don’t work. It’s a lot of pressure on parents. But daycares have to have an illness policy or illness would spread like wildfire. Once all the kids pass it to each other, the next step is the childcare provider gets sick, and then what? Everyone is out of work.
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Daycare sick child policy
Kids cough in my face, sneeze in my eye, put chewed on toys in my hand and even my mouth if they can do it fast enough. As a childcare provider, I am super vulnerable to children’s germs. It’s part of the job. Cleaning up vomit and diarrhea, wiping noses, changing diapers, helping kids learn to use the potty and also eat.
Many germs can spread because of the intimate nature of the job. If you feed an infant and they throw up down your bra, you’re getting germs from them, right? So why do we have to be a jerk and say you can’t bring your child to daycare sick?
Home daycare sick policy
In home daycare, we don’t have a way to split up the kids and keep the sick ones away from the well ones. There is generally just one provider on the scene and they aren’t allowed to close sick kids in a room and not be with them. They also aren’t allowed to close well kids in a room and not be with them.
It’s a tough gig to work alone. There’s no adult interaction, no support, no backup. Just one person cooking, cleaning, caring, and doing it all on their own.
THE WORST thing a parent can do is give their kids Tylenol to reduce fever and drop them off at daycare. But it’s a classic move, happens constantly. We call it dope and drop. But the problem with that is while the fever is down from medication, the kids are infecting everyone they come in contact and the provider doesn’t even know it.
We’ve all had kids tell us they threw up that morning or the night before. And we know parents need to work, we do have empathy. But we also need to work and we don’t have sick leave to cover our business as most parents do.
So, the Tylenol wears off during nap, the kids wake up burning up and we call parents. But the child has already been spreading whatever they have all morning long. Sure, parents got to work most of the day, but there will days to come they won’t be able to because everyone at daycare got sick. It’s a vicious cycle.
Missing work to care for sick child
Bosses can be jerks. Some of them always get mad when parents have to take off for sick children. I know first hand. When I worked out of the home, my boss rode me hard when my daughter was sick. She always acted like my job was on the line.
But family comes first. And when kids are sick, they need their parents. They want their parents. They need rest at home. And at daycare, there is so much going on, it’s not a restful place to recuperate.
Daycare illness policy
Your daycare illness policy should be mentioned in your contract. Your expectations should be laid out for parents before a problem arises. Mine is mentioned in my contract if you want to print it out and use it, or just refer to it, it’s here.
Daycare sick policy
Typically, a temperature of 100 degrees may indicate that the body is fighting off an infection. Without medication, the fever must stay down on its own for 24 hours to be readmitted at Little Sprouts. Right now, due to the COVID recommendations, it must be 72 hours per our state health department.
If the child has vomited within 24 hours, they must be kept out of daycare. Every time in the past 25 years I have made an exception thinking the child really wasn’t sick, they were. And I regretted it.
This is a tough one. If the child has had diarrhea in the past 24 hours, they should be kept home. Many times, parents say it’s teething, but 9 times out of 10, it ends up being something else and other kids end up with it. Everyone can’t teeth at once, but 5 or 7 kids with diarrhea is quite the nightmare for a provider.
Runny nose policy:
Runny noses are commonplace at daycare. There are allergies and all kinds of reasons a child will have a runny nose. Generally, I don’t exclude from care for only a running nose. But, with our COVID recommendations from the health department, I am following, we need to exclude if the mucus is dark or green/yellow during this time.
If a child is coughing, typically we don’t exclude them from care if it’s the only symptom. Like a runny nose, this can be allergy-related. But during COVID our recommendations are to exclude a child from care for any cough since it’s the top indicator that someone may have it.
Coughs spread illness quickly because it’s in the air. So be very cautious about accepting a child or taking your child to daycare with a cough.
Free printable illness policy
Free printable special COVID illness policy
(This is my favorite printer and it’s stood by me for years of printing everything imaginable for my home daycare)
Preventing illness in daycare
What are the best ways to prevent illness in daycare?
Handwashing is number one! Wash yours and teach kids to wash theirs regularly.
Excluding sick kids from care so they don’t spread what they have.
Wipe down or spray disinfectant on surfaces to kill germs that lie around, especially on toys that have been mouthed or sneezed on.
Sick child daycare
There are sick child daycares. Do a google search to see if there is one in your area. This may help you avoid missing work if your child becomes ill. Many times, a grandparent can watch sick kids for a few days. But remember, right now, we all need to be careful, and bringing your sick child to someone else to care for exposes more people to germs.
This doesn’t really matter if it’s the current situation or a flu outbreak or strep. All of these things are an issue and we should all be careful not to get other people sick.
Many parents don’t have sick leave at their jobs so having a sick child is a financial burden as well. If you are a provider, have empathy for parents, but don’t go too far and allow them to make you and the other kids in care sick because you didn’t stick to your rules.
We all need to have a plan ahead of time for illness. Some of the CDC recommendations are not reasonable for home daycare or even center daycare. But we can adapt and use as much of them as we can.
Here are some things we can do for our daycare sick child policy:
- Plan ahead and have plenty of supplies
- Wash hands regularly
- Ask parents to screen children for fever or illness before arrival daily
- Remind parents of illness policy regarding fever and cough
- Clean and disinfect surfaces daily
- Cover coughs and sneezes
- Wear a mask when out in public
- Avoid gathering in crowds
- Require sick children and staff to stay home
- Open doors and windows and use fans and a good filter on your heat and air to keep everything ventilated as much as possible
- Wait as long as possible to disinfect to allow all droplets to settle
- Modify drop of and pick up procedures to keep parents outside and reduce exposure in the facility
- Keep visitors out as much as possible
- Screen each child for illness upon arrival by checking temperature and doing a visual scan to see if the child appears well
- Cancel or postpone special gatherings until later
Here are some things we shouldn’t do for our daycare sick child policy:
- Keep babies, toddlers, and preschoolers socially distanced (not possible)
- Control what other people do in their outside time (don’t stress over what families do outside of care, there’s nothing you can do about it)
- Make young kids wear masks during care
- Use hand sanitizer on young children
- Use toys that cannot be cleaned or sanitized
- Stay open to provide care if you or your family has serious underlying health conditions that may cause concern
Use common sense when deciding what procedures you will follow for your daycare sick child policy. You know what can be done. You know what you can handle. And you know what is safe and good for children.
So, go with your instincts, set policies with your parents, let them know what they are, and do your best. This situation is stressful enough, so don’t drive yourself crazy trying to do something that’s unreasonable.
And don’t forget you have an obligation to yourself and everyone else to keep yourself safe and practice self care during this time so you can be well to care for everyone else. This stuff will wear you down.
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