Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Medication Administration in Child Care

Ideally, child care providers will not be administering medications to children.  Generally, the first dose of the medication will be given at home before the child comes to the child care program.  Ideally, the next dose will be given after the child is picked up from care and the last dose for the day will be given at bedtime.  When that's not possible, child care providers may choose to administer medication.

Because medication administration is a very risky procedure, when we choose to administer medications, we have to have a very clear policy to minimize the risk to both the child and our program:

  • who we will administer medication to?
  • what medication we will administer?
  • where will the medication be stored?
  • when does the child receive the medication?
  • how do we document all of this?
We have to make sure that we understand the doctor's instructions in administering this medication to a child and that we understand how the parent's wishes correspond with the doctor's instructions.  Above all, we have to make sure that the medication is stored in a safe manner and that the right child receives the right medication in the right way at the right time.   We do this through a clear Medication Administration Policy which includes a staff training component as well as a way of documenting the administration of the medication.
Image courtesy of www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Back-to-School for Child Care

Last weekend's USA Weekend magazine (the one in our local Sunday paper) included an article entitled "Your A+Back-to-School Action Plan".  Although it's intended for parents of children in grades K-12, it struck me that many of the suggestions would be a good annual check-up for child care providers as well.

The author, Peg Tyre, makes the following suggestions:
  1. "Make contact with teachers by Week 3."  Hopefully, we have open lines of communication with each family.   Even so, back-to-school is a good time for a refresher; check-in with your families and evaluate whether there are any families with which you don't have good communication.  If so, what can you do to try to improve it? 

  2. "Check that your child is reading at grade level."  While we won't be checking for grade-level reading, this is a good time to make sure that we have some sort of system in place to monitor the development of the children in our care.  (DayCareTools has Developmental Checklists available, if you don't already have this in place.)

  3. "Understand the importance of downtime."  We wrote a blog article back in 2008 about the importance of recess in the daily schedule.  Outside play time is just as important (if not more so) for young children, as is the opportunity for a lot of free choice of inside activities throughout the day. 

  4. " Analyze test scores".  In this, Tyre suggests that parents look at the overall school philosophy; are they all about test prep activities or are they focused on " helping kids understand, analyze and write about complex subjects"?  Use this back-to-school time to check your own program for developmental appropriateness.

  5.  "Stay on track for college".  My first thought was to skip this tip, but we are preparing our students for college and/or careers.  How?  By empowering the children in our care to be self-motivated active learners; the most important skills they need to be successful in college or a career.

  6. "Don't trash-talk about math", or any other subject.  Recent brain research reinforces what we have often told students; you can do anything you set your mind to doing.  Young children are generally not afraid to try new things.  We have to be careful to keep our own biases out of our programs and not squelch their enthusiasm.  We have to encourage them to branch out, even if it's something outside of our own comfort zone. 

  7. "Be part of the learning community".  Look at your parent involvement calendar for the upcoming year.  Do you have opportunities for parents to have conferences with your teachers; do you have some family activities involved; have you invited parents, and given them suggestions for being involved in your program?

An annual review of your program will help you stay on track.  Back-to-school time can be a good reminder for that review.
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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Releasing a Child from a Child Care Program

One of our most important responsibilities as child care providers is keeping the children in our care safe.  This includes releasing the children from the program. 

The ideal situation would be that one person always drops the child off into our care and that same person picks the child up every day.  But, since life is generally not ideal, we have to make sure that our staff know what to do in tricky circumstances.  We do this by having a policy in place and training all of our staff members on that policy.

What happens if someone other than the parent picks up the child?  How do you determine if that person is authorized to remove the child from the facility?  How do you ensure that the person is actually who they say they are?  And, how do you do all of this without upsetting the person?

You have to have a form that the parent completes at enrollment that lists those individuals who are authorized to pick up the child.  When someone unfamiliar comes to pick up a child, your staff member must check the form to ensure that person is authorized and check the person's photo identification to make sure that they are who they are claiming to be.  In my experience, the only times people have become upset when I ask them for identification are when they left it in the car and it's an inconvenience to go back out to get it.  Generally speaking, when I gently explain to them how critically important it is for us to protect the child by ensuring that we are releasing him or her to the correct person, they understand completely and usually appreciate our caution.  Regardless, we have to be willing to have someone who is slightly upset with us rather than risking releasing a child to the wrong person.

Your staff may also come up against the issue of one parent not wanting the child released to the other parent.  The only way you can respect that wish is if there is a court order in place that confirms that request.  (If you have questions about this issue, we have a detailed Custody Orders Policy.)

The other question that may come up is what to do if a seemingly intoxicated parent comes to pick up a child.  Again, we cannot legally withhold a child from their parent without a court order.  However, what we can do is to recommend that the parent not take the child in their car and help the parent find alternative transportation.  If the parent still insists on taking the child, we can advise them that we will be calling 911 and informing the police that we believe that they are driving impaired with a child in the car. 

Regardless of the situation, you must have a policy in place to ensure that your staff know the appropriate way to release a child from your child care program.  If you don't already have a policy, you can find ours here: http://daycaretools.com/DaycareProducts.aspx#Policies
Image courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Recycling in Child Care

How much money have you spent on sorting activities for the children in your care?  Over the years, I am sure we have spent hundreds of dollars on materials to help our children learn to discriminate items by size, shape, color, etc.  What about a free sorting activity that helps to conserve  natural resources?  Recycling.  The key to recycling is knowing how to identify and sort recyclable materials.  

Since young children love to sort items by various characteristics, this is the perfect time to teach them about recycling.  The first task is to teach them what is recyclable.  The recycling symbol is a big key.  Once they know that symbol, it's like a treasure hunt.  

The next task is to teach them how to recycle.  This is where the fun sorting work begins.  Depending upon where you live and what services are available, your sorting will vary.  Do you have mixed recycling where all recyclables can go in one bin and garbage in another?  Or do you sort plastic, glass and paper separately?  What about green (food) waste?  Does your waste management company provide pick-up service, do you start a compost bin for your garden or flower bed, or both?  Regardless of the specifics, children will love getting each item in the correct bin.  By directly teaching children what items go in what bin, posting pictures or actual objects of what goes in each bin, practicing with the children, and making sure that they understand what to do when they don't know which bin is correct will help make your recycling program successful.  As a caution, remember, food waste must be in a container with a tightly-sealing lid for health purposes.  

Make sure you send a note to parents about your recycling program.  You can almost guarantee that the children will want to practice their recycling skills at home, so parents who are not already recyclers need to be warned that their children will probably be insisting that the family start recycling.