Every day care center, public or in-home, has policies in place to determine if a child is too unwell and/or contagious to be around other children. The list can be extensive, and if the parent is unaware of illnesses that can keep their child out of day care, they could be in for an unpleasant surprise. These suggestions should help any parent be prepared for a sick day.
When Is Your Child Too Sick to Go to Day Care?
The list of illnesses that can prohibit a child from day care is lengthy, but necessary to protect the other children from becoming ill as well. The most common reasons a child is sent home is because of illness or due to parasites. This usually includes having a fever over 99.9, vomiting, rashes, a severe ‘whooping’ cough that produces thick green or yellow mucus, a cold (especially with a fever and runny nose), strep throat, pink eye, chicken pox, scabies, and having lice. Check with the provider for their regulations.
When Can Your Child Return to Day Care?
Usually, with a doctor’s note, your child can return to the day care center when their symptoms have been absent for at least 24 hours, or they have taken antibiotics for the same amount of time. This will ensure that no other children will be exposed to the illness, and no other child will have to stay home or take medication. Again, be sure to check with the provider for their requirements.
What Are the Consequences of Having a Child Sent Home From Day Care?
Not only will the parent have to leave work to pick their child up, often the day care will still charge for any days their child misses, especially in-home providers. Larger centers may charge a fee for cleaning and disinfecting your child’s assigned room. If there is no one else to care for your child, you will also lose wages for the days you must stay home with your child until they are able to return to day care.
What Can the Parent Do to Lessen the Impact of a Sick Child?
First, realize that all children will get sick. To keep sickness to a minimum, wash and sanitize hands often. Teach children to cough into their elbow and not their hands to reduce the chance of transmitting germs to others.
Second, create a back-up plan. Arrange to have a friend or family member on your child’s approved persons list, and be sure that they are willing to pick-up and care for your child until you get home from work, also ask if they could be available for the duration of the illness. Find out if your employer will allow telecommuting while your child is ill.
Third, do not be a ‘drop and run’ parent. If your child is ill activate the back-up plan, or the provider will call you, and you will then have to retrieve your child anyway. This is the reason the back-up plan is so important, it leaves options open other than giving your child cold medicine to mask their symptoms and hope the provider does not notice that they are ill.
A working parent faces many challenges every day, at work, at home, and at their child’s day care. Planning for the inevitable illness will reduce the stress for the parent, the provider, and the child. As an adult, try to remember what it was like to be ill as a child. Would you have wanted to leave your warm bed to face a noisy, crowded place, or would you rather just be able to rest in peace and quiet until you felt better?