Daycare serves a critical role for most families. However, the risk of having so many children in one place is not insignificant. Illness can spread rapidly among children, babies, and toddlers in daycare. The key is for daycare staff to take proper measures to minimize the spread of illness. With these simple guidelines, it is possible to reduce the risk of cold, ear infection and more.
Require Hand Washing
The best way to prevent illness is to stop the spread of germs. Germs are most commonly transmitted by touch. Therefore, hand washing should be a must. Staff should wash frequently, but it is especially important that they wash their hands after changing diapers. It is also critical to require hand washing after using the bathroom and before meals. Set up hand sanitizer at convenient locations, put hand washing rules in the bathroom and periodically check to see if employees are following through on the directives for clean hands.
Educate About Vaccines
Vaccines are a critical line of defense against many dangerous childhood illnesses. The daycare may already have regulations regarding child’s immunization, but children may need additional vaccines in order to stay immune. It is in the daycare’s interest to check with parents that children are being properly vaccinated even after admission. Also, be sure to remember that staff members should be properly vaccinated. This is essential for dangerous diseases like Pertussis, but it is also helpful with more common bugs like the flu.
Promote Healthy Diets
Vaccines are a useful line of defense, but you can also promote wellness through other measures. It is possible to boost the immune system naturally with the right diet. If possible, promote healthy eating with balanced meals and snacks at the daycare. Make sure that children and staff understand the importance of eating fruits and vegetables. Food should also include choices that are rich with iron and fiber. In addition to using healthy choices at the daycare, consider providing educational materials for parents about the value of eating right.
Set a Sick Policy
All daycare facilities need the policy to deal with sickness. In other words, parents must have clear instructions about when children are not permitted to attend. The most common guideline to include is that no child with a fever can be at daycare. If a child develops a fever, parents are required to pick the child up immediately. However, additional requirements may be used. Some infections and illnesses are very contagious without a fever. The policy should be clearly communicated to parents in advance to avoid confusion. As an added note, always be sure that staff members abide by the same regulations.
Implement Cleaning Procedures
Cleaning the hands can play a crucial role in preventing illness. However, in the daycare setting, germs are also spread through objects. Young children and babies are not the tidiest creatures. Between diapers, drooling, runny noses and more, germs collect on countless surfaces throughout the facility. Young children also have a tendency to put toys in their mouths, which dramatically increases the risk of spreading germs. To reduce this risk, the daycare should have strict and thorough cleaning procedures in place. Cleaning should include regular wiping down and disinfect. Items that should be cleaned include the following.
- Toys and books
- Tables and chairs
- Preparation surfaces
- Bedding and sleeping areas
- Doors and light switches
- Eating utensils
- Craft supplies
Know Licensing Regulations and Standards
Every daycare must follow regulations from the state in order to remain licensed. Many of these regulations include standards for health and safety. If the daycare is accredited, there may be even more stringent requirements to maintain licensing. Following these regulations will not only keep the daycare licensed, but it will also promote wellness throughout the facility.
Overall, the risk of illness in the daycare setting is very real. It should be taken seriously by staff, owners and parents. However, with cooperation from all parties, it is possible to minimize the spread of illness. These procedures will not prevent all illnesses, but they can help keep your daycare family healthy and happy for years to come.