I recently read an interesting article from the National Institutes of Health regarding exclusion of children from child care due to illness. Researchers found that children who are excluded due to illness frequently end up in an emergency room or urgent care center rather than with their regular pediatrician. Parents often need a doctor’s note to either get their child accepted back into care or to get approval for time off from work. When they are trying to get this note quickly, they often feel the need to seek emergency care rather than waiting for a visit with the pediatrician. Lead researcher Dr. Andrew Hashikawa explains that, while this may not be a medical emergency, it becomes a “socioeconomic emergency". Because of this perceived emergency, parents who need a note were four times more likely than other parents to seek emergency care for their children.
While child care providers must have illness exclusion policies to protect the health of both children and staff, making sure that the policies are well-informed can provide some relief to parents. Many child care policies are based on “how we’ve always done it” rather than on actual medical recommendations and are, therefore, more exclusionary than necessary. Part of the problem is that, although the American Academy of Pediatrics publishes exclusion guidelines, child care providers must meet local child care licensing requirements, which may be in opposition to the guidelines of best practices.
What we can do to help our families while keeping children and staff healthy is to follow the licensing requirements while understanding what illnesses do not actually require exclusion. This knowledge will also help us to explain our policies to parents so that they can partner with us to keep everyone healthy. If you don’t already have an Illness Exclusion Policy, check ours out at www.DayCareTools.com.
P.S. Congratulations to our friend Vera on the Grand Opening of her new Center. Best wishes!! Glad we could help you out a little.