February 2023 – Published by 4-C
As parents and childcare providers, keeping children healthy and safe is our top priority. However, in a group setting like a preschool, family child care home, or after-school program, it can be challenging to manage illnesses and prevent their spread.
But there are strategies for managing disease in early childhood spaces and we can work together to keep all of our children healthy and happy.
Prevention is key when it comes to managing illness in early childhood spaces. One of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of illnesses is by promoting good hygiene practices among children and staff. This includes teaching children to wash their hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom, blowing their nose, or eating. It’s also important to ensure that staff and children have access to hand sanitizer (if allowed) and that it’s being used properly.
Another crucial aspect of prevention is ensuring that the early childhood space is clean and well-maintained. This means regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and toys, as well as ensuring that the ventilation system is functioning properly.
It’s also crucial for childcare providers and parents to communicate effectively about illnesses and their symptoms. Parents should inform the childcare provider if their child is experiencing any symptoms or if they have been exposed to an illness. Child care providers should also be transparent about any illnesses that have been reported in the space and what steps they are taking to prevent the spread.
“When should I send a sick child home?”*
Managing illness in early childhood spaces is a complex task requiring prevention, communication, and monitoring. Childcare providers should consider the following questions when determining whether or not to send a child home:
- Do the symptoms prevent the child from participating comfortably in activities?
- Do the symptoms require care that is greater than the staff can provide without compromising the health and safety of other children?
- Do the symptoms pose a risk of the spread of harmful diseases to others?
If the childcare provider answers “yes” to any of these questions, you should consider sending the child home. This not only helps to prevent the spread of illness but also allows the child to rest and recover. Parents should also be encouraged to keep their children home if they have been exposed to an illness, even if they are not showing symptoms yet.
*Remember to check Certification or Licensing rules and abide by your program’s policies
Another aspect of managing illness in early childhood spaces is ensuring that all staff and children are up to date on their vaccinations. This is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of illnesses like measles, pertussis, and influenza. It’s also important to make sure that all staff is trained to recognize the symptoms of these illnesses and know what to do if a child is showing signs of being unwell.
In addition to these strategies, remember that children, especially young children, are not always able to communicate their symptoms effectively. Childcare providers need to be aware of this and to closely monitor children for signs of illness, such as a runny nose, cough, or fever.
Finally, remember that managing illness in early childhood spaces is a team effort. Parents, childcare providers, and staff must work together to create a healthy and safe environment for children. By promoting good hygiene practices, communicating effectively, keeping children and staff up to date on vaccinations, and closely monitoring for signs of illness, we can work together to keep all of our children healthy and happy.
In conclusion, managing illness in early childhood spaces is a complex task requiring prevention, communication, and monitoring. By following these strategies, we can work together to create a healthy and safe environment for all children in our care. Remember that the key is to be proactive, communicate effectively and work together as a team.
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Additional 4-C Resources
- 4-C Blog: Activities to Keep Children Active When Bad Weather Keeps them at Home
- 4-C Blog: Snowy Day Activities
- 4-C Pinterest Board: Activities