Illness in Childcare


Community Health Training Solutions

Illness in Child Care Settings

Child Care is different from school age programs with regards
to excluding children for illness. Young children cannot be counted on to cover their cough, stifle their sneeze or to wipe their runny nose. In addition when we are talking about young children, their immune systems are not fully developed so it is natural for them to get more illnesses than older children so we cannot follow the same guidelines for exclusion.

When a young child is cared for at home by a parent that particular child is limited to whom he/she is in contact with and therefore which illnesses he/she may be in contact with. If you put that same child into a child care setting whether it is a family child care or center based care they are now coming in contact with many more people, both children and adults, and will develop many more illnesses than they normally would. Parents need to be educated about this and need to understand that their child who is in a child care setting will get ill and will need to be kept at home to help reduce the spread of illnesses.

Children in child care settings come in contact with more children and adults than they would if cared for at home which increase the chance of the spread of illness. In addition young children are in closer physical contact with others and with their environment, than school age children which also increases the risk of germs spreading. Children in child care are therefore exposed to a larger number of infectious disease at a time that their immune system is still developing. Young children are exposed to many illnesses to which their bodies have not yet become immune to. Attendance of sick children increases the chances of cross contamination of infection for other children. The close proximity of children and staff and the number of children and staff increases the chances of contagious illness being passed.

It is important that families maintain a focus not only on the wellbeing of their own child, but on the wellbeing of other children and child care staff. In the interest of everyone’s health, child care settings must develop good exclusion policies and parents must follow them.