Sick Child Policies at Daycare
Berkeley Parents Network >
Sick Child Policies at Daycare
Can you make up sick days at your preschool without extra
cost? A few of my friends can but before I broach the topic
at our preschool I'd like to see how widespread this
practice is (or isn't).
would love to not lose sick days
Are you asking if you can get your money back for a day
that your child is sick or apply that money to future
days? Our preschool's policy on that was no -- for very
sound business reasons. Budget and staffing are set well
in advance. If your child is out sick one day, the
teachers are still there providing care and need to be
paid for a full day's work. It wouldn't be fair (and
probably not legal) for them to have a fluctuating
paycheck because kids are out sick.
Nope. Although it's not too unusual for things like dance
lessons or Music Together classes, I would be absolutely
astonished to find a preschool that offered ''make up'' days.
In general, you can't make up sick days at preschool. Child
care is strictly regulated in terms of how many children can
be present at any time, so unless the school is quite large
and can afford to have open spots, most schools are filled
to capacity on a daily basis. Also, most run with a minimal
profit margin, so getting paid for the extra days is one of
the few ways schools can earn much needed extra money.
Nope, and I wouldn't expect to get to make up sick days. The
teacher is still there even if my kid isn't, and can't give
away the space for the day. That said, my preschool clearly
states in its paperwork that missed days CAN'T be made up for
free. I think it's worth asking if you honestly don't know --
but if you know there aren't make-ups, I think you need to
live with that answer.
My husband and I both work full time and our six month old is
in an in-home daycare with seven other children. He is really
happy there and the caretakers are nice really great with him.
The issue we are having is that the daycare has called us a
handful of times since he started three months ago to ask if we
can pick him up early because he had a bad runny nose, he threw
up or he just wasn't ''being himself.'' One time they called he
did turn out to have a virus and we kept him home for a week.
The few other times I picked him up early, he was totally
fine. I have no problem to pick him up if he is sick and
understand how important it is to keep a sick child home to get
better and not get the other kids sick. On the other hand,
sometimes we all just have off days. There are no health
issues with him in general. My question is what is the
balance? This is our first so we would love some advice
navagating this. What do other in-home daycares do in these
situations? Thank you!
Does your daycare have a written sick policy? I used several
family-based daycares for my son, and they all had a specific
policy for when a child had to be picked up or not attend
daycare (usually with a little flexibility, depending on the
provider). Usually, the sick policy includes fever, vomiting,
diarrhea, pink eye, or other infectious disease. A runny nose
alone is not reason enough to pick up your child, or else he
would spend most of the winter at home. ''Not being himself'' is
also not a clear enough reason, since he could just be
teething, tired, or cranky. I would ask your provider if they
have a written list of what constitutes a stay-at-home-illness,
and when the child would be allowed to return (e.g., after
fever/diarrhea/vomiting is gone, after starting meds for pink
eye). If your provider doesn't have such a list, or continues
to send your son home for vague ''illnesses,'' you might want to
consider trying another place that is more understanding about
runny noses and bad moods.
When we ran an in-home daycare years ago, if a child had more
than very mild sniffles, we'd look at the situation closely.
In most cases though, the parent or guardian was called. We
understood that people have to work and such, but it was not
fair to have a sick child making others sick. We lost count of
how many times a sick child (apparently) led to one/some of us
being sick. Or other children would end up sick. This would
lead to those children's parents either being upset about the
situation or then trying to bring their own sick child or
both. More than a few times a parent would be upset when
they'd drop their child off or pick it up and notice another
child there sick. Soooooo, sorry mom/dad/guardian but this has
gone beyond a sneeze or sniffle and you need to come get your
child. Some parents didn't like this policy but it was clearly
stated in the contract that every attendee had to sign. And
the only time we lost an attendee was when there was a change
in their family situation (job, residential move, etc) or once
when the mother bounced one too many checks and got the boot.
None left (to our knowledge) because of our sick-child policy.
All that said, you two should come up with a rotation plan for
who takes time off when the little one is sick. Clear
communication of the situation with your respective
managers/supervisors in advance should help. Arrange a
relative to help out periodically in cases like this. And look
into whether there is a local short-term sick-child-capable
daycare as a last resort.
a father & ex-daycare administrator
There was just an article in the NY Times that applies. Look at:
another 1st-timer in daycare
I run a in home daycare in Berkeley.
If the kids have a fever or are throwing up I call parents to
come and pick them up.
A runny nose is nothing to be concerned about. As a general rule
of thumb, if the child just has a cold, but is up for play and
behaving normally there should be no reason for you to have to
pick up. If the child is seeming out of sorts and having a
continually bad day (due to cold) I call parents.
Sometimes I may call parents just to give them a heads up that
their child does not seem to be doing well and that I will keep
them posted through out the day.
I think that you should look into a different daycare for your child.
Although it is
irresponsible to leave your child in daycare when he/she is VERY ill
etc)... a runny nose is something that frequently lasts LONG after an
gone. The state licensed preschool/daycare my daughter attends feels
that there is no
point in keeping a child home for a mere runny nose (if it is not
discolored mucus)- it
does not prevent the spread of illness to others. By the time the runny
nose appears, it
is too late and the germs have already been spread. Both pediatricians
that we have
seen have agreed.
Did your kid get impetigo? My 18 mth old was just diagnosed with
it on his thigh (we got antibiotics and we're on the road to
recovery) and I learned that an older child at our small family
day care had it a month ago. And his parents still sent him to
day care! The day care said that his impetigo (on his arm) was
covered with a bandage and he was on antibiotics. But the
bacteria is still on his fingers and his clothes. I'm taking
time off work to keep my child at home and working late at night
to try to keep up. I called daycare to let them know what I'm
doing but to also give the other families a heads up that my
child has impetigo and they should be aware of it. It's supposed
to be highly contagious. Is it too much to start an email thread
with the other parents and try to come to an agreement about
keeping sick kids at home? I knew that with a daycare setting,
that my child would be exposed to illnesses. However, if another
parent is knowingly sending their sick kid to daycare, it makes
me mad. The other child just a drop in and he's not there much.
My child is there fulltime and I won't take the chance of
daycare if he's sick
Trying My Best Not to Spread Illnesses
I know how frustrating it is to miss work because your child is sick,
but before you start a war with the other family at your child's day
care, I'd like to point out a couple of things.
First, you have no way of knowing if your child caught impetigo from the
other child. In fact, if a month elapsed between when the other child
had it and when your child developed it, I think the odds that your
child got it from the other child are pretty close to zero (you might
want to check with your family physician about that one, I'm not a
medical person, but it's my understanding that bacteria don't survive
outside a host for more than a few days). Impetigo is a common
infection among children. It is often (though not always) caused by the
same bacteria as strep throat, so if anyone in your family or social
circle has had strep lately, they may be the ''culprit''.
Second, the other family may very well have been following the advice of
their pediatrician about when it was ok to bring their child back to day
care. My son had a mild case of impetigo last year, and I was told that
as long as his lesions weren't oozing (he had a mild enough case that
they never did), and as long as he had been on the antibiotic for at
least 24 hours, and as long as I had carefully bathed him and washed all
of his clothing (which, of course, I did), that he shouldn't be
contagious, and I could send him back to preschool -- which I did.
Perhaps your family doctor has given you different advice, but you can
hardly blame the other family for sending their child back to day care
if their doctor said it was ok.
I think it would be worthwhile to have a dialog about this with your
family physician (if you haven't already done so) and also with your day
care provider. However, I think you should reconsider your position
that your child must have caught impetigo from the other child -- I
think it's quite likely that you're mistaken about this.
IMHO, it should not be up to you to hassle with email and ''trying to
come to an agreement'' about keeping sick kids home. The daycare
probably already has such a policy that needs to be reminded and
reinforced. If they don't have a policy, they should. I would talk to
the director of the day care and ask/tell them to come up with a policy,
announce and enforce it. If not, you will have to find a different day
care. And in this case, to keep from being too mad, give the other
parents the benefit of the doubt--maybe they thought/were told that
their child was not contagious because it was covered. You could pass on
to the director any information you have about the contagious period of
different diseases if you want anon
My kids just had impetigo. You may not know this but after they have
been on antibiotics for 24 they are no longer contagious. My doctor told
me to keep my kids home one day and then they can go back to school. The
rash may still be oozy looking but not contagious. I think you need to
know the whole story from this other family before your anger gets the
best of you or best of all LET IT GO. Kids get all kinds of rashes and
illnesses in and out of daycare. My son got impetigo while we were
staying out in the middle of the woods this summer because he scratched
his mosquito bites like crazy Rashy Mom
You know, my kids have pretty much caught every bizarre little thing at
pre-school. I keep my kids (18-months and 3 1/2) home when I know they
have something and I am pretty sure that every other parent that you
will run across will tell you the same thing. Sadly, most of the things
my kids catch are given to them before their parents know that they have
an issue or recognize it as an issue.
My guess is that every parent on the BPN has a child (yours
included) who has unwittingly passed along a bug to another child.
Children give varying amounts of notice re: their discomfort, so it can
be tough to see an issue coming on..
It sounds like you are upset that you are taking some time off of work
that possibly could be prevented. We've all been there. I know that I
don't point the finger at other parents. I really look at my children's
preschool to keep me informed of the bugs roaming around campus. If you
don't like how your daycare handled the situation or health issues in
general, then it is time to find a new daycare. I know that my
daughters' preschool has a formalized procedure for handling potential
They send out a notice to every parent whenever something surfaces.
They also note specifically how the issue should be handled by the
parents before the child is allowed back in the school (in this case, it
would be oral antibiotics for 24-hours or the rash would be cleared up).
Additionally, they call
parents to pick up their kids after the second loose stool, etc.
It's my understanding that by law day care providers are supposed to
notify parents when kids have been exposed to certain contangious
illnesses. There is a form at the Bananas
website: www.bananasinc.org, that providers can use to notify parents. I
don't think an email tree will work as there are always those parents
that take their kids to daycare despite the fact that they might be
under the weather. I'm usually good about it, but yes, I've taken my kid
in sick when I've had clients flying in from out of town for a meeting
that I couldn't postpone.
At my son's daycare, as well as those of friends, the protocol is that
there is a letter given out the parents indicating what their kid
might've been exposed to. I've gotten numerous letters for coaxil virus
and one for chicken pox, but my son never came down with any of those (I
guess the sick kid was in another class). It's crucial to get these
notices, which includes symptoms, as you know what to keep an eye out
for in case your kid starts feeling out of sorts. Our day care also has
the policy that if there is green nose mucus or a fever a kid has to be
out for at least 24 hours. Also, if he/she has had a contangious
illness, I think we're supposed to bring in proof that they've been on
antibiotics (if required) for a certain amount of time or get a doctor's
note. Yes, it's a pain when it's your child that's sick, but it's a good
system as when it's someone else's kid that's sick, hopefully it
prevents your child from coming down with the same thing.
You might want to also get the licensing agency teleophone number from
Bananas to report to the agency that your day care isn't doing this and
they'll do an inspection to see if there are any other irregularities.
Our day care also gives us a form if our kid has had a minor accident at
school, such as scraping a knee or bonking his head on the play
I am facing a wierd challenge with a child care facility. My
son had been attending a new family child care facility in
Berkeley for the last 5 months. Recently, we told the teacher
we are going to be away for 3 days, for a trip to Vancouver
Canada. After we returned, and my son was already eager to
return to routine, I received a telephone call, the night
before he should have resumed school, that she is concerned
about SARS, and therefore would like him not to come for the
next 10 days. I told her that: 1. we gave her a month notice of
our trip, and she could have said that earlier. 2. that there
is no SARS in Vancouver. 3. that this is very disruptive for me
and damaging for the child. 4. that I think it is also illegal.
Any comments ? should I call the licensing authority ? what
would you do ?
Regardless if Vancouver is a SARS area or not I think your
preschool teacher was absolutely right. SARS is a serious
disease which transmits frighteningly easily, city to city,
country to country. Many have died. The elderly, pregnant and
children are esp. vulnerable.Whether it is legal or not, is
irrevelant, your preschool Director has a moral responsibility
to the rest of the children and families in your school to
ensure they are not inadvertantly infected. Who did you sit
next to on the plane? Was there someone on the plane from
Toronto sharing your air? 5 days is not a lot in the life of a
child esp. if it means not getting infecting others with a life
Call BANANAS at 658-7353. In addition to their expertise on
daycare issues, they have up-to-date information about SARS.
They can also give you more information about making complaints
to the licensing board.
Perhaps the daycare provider is erring on the side of caution.
Definitely do not think this is illegal,tho. As a parent of a
child who might be in your childs daycare, I do have to say that
if there was any chance that the other kids could be
infected...its best to make absolutely sure, right? Your
provider should have warned you, however.
Your daycare provider sounds like she is a few cards short of a
full deck. You went to Canada, and there is SARS in some part
of Canada (not the part you went to) so therefore she assumes you
might have SARS? What about the SARS case in Sacramento - that's
a heck of a lot closer to us than Vancouver is to Toronto - she is
not worried about that? OK, sarcasm aside, I personally would look
for another daycare. She sounds a little slow on the draw and might
make other errors of judgement in future that could have an even
worse effect than some missed work days. Just my opinion.
Call (800) 333-3212 - the California Child Care Health Program
(affiliated with UCSF) for telephone advice from a pediatric
nurse. I'm sure they have received many calls about SARS in the
past few months and will be able to give you the latest
information from the County Health Department.
After reading the two or three responses siding with your day
care provider, I was flabbergasted! Toronto is THOUSANDS of miles away from Vancouver,
there are healthy people living and working everywhere in and
around Toronto, and Canada (of all places) has been as
responsible a public health protectorate as anywhere in the
world, including our republic of Northern California. Your health
care provider is out of line, though perhaps not breaking any laws.
I have a couple of relatives who live in Toronto who say things
are normal. Parents and children and pregnant women and
professionals and artists, etc. are not wearing masks and staying
I myself am 4 months pregnant at the end of this month will take
a 10-day trip (alone) to Canada (on Air Canada and smaller
carriers) in which the first and last nights are spent in Ottowa,
about 150 miles away from Toronto. My physician assured me that
there was very low risk and I should not fret, and that if I was
nervous I should wash my hands a lot.
What comes to mind is the ultimately sensible post in the last
recommendations newsletter responding to someone's questions
about protecting from West Nile Virus. You could point out to
your day care provider that the probability is very low, and
driving around in a car every day probably puts your fellow day
care kids and parents at greater risk.
Finally, I've talked with OUR day care provider about my trip and
SARS and our toddler and the other kids and she agrees that there
is not a risk that would cause her to quarantine our child. I'm
pretty sure that it is your provider's right to do what she's
done, but if it were me, I'd go somewhere else that wasn't going
to be so reactionary and unreasonable.
I'm wondering what rules are in use out there to decide when a child must stay home from
daycare. My new daycare provider is very strict about sending a child home who has a runny
nose with clear mucus that has to be wiped frequently. I always thought it was the green/yellow
mucus that was more problematic. I'm stressing out about this because if I have to stay home
every time my daughter has a runny nose I'll soon be unemployed!!
Any guidelines/medical info would be much appreciated.
As a provider myself, a runny nose can mean diferent things and one of
those is teething. I don't send kids home for a runny nose but if I
see more than that, fever or maybe the child is not feeling too happy,
I will do something about it.
We have experience with 2 different daycare providers for our 2 children.
The provider for our first child passed away a couple of years ago. Now we
have our second child with a different provider. Both providers had a
practical attitude about sniffles: that children have runny noses a lot in
the winter. As long as the child can play and is not grumpy, they can stay
at daycare. However, if the nose is constantly runny and the child is not
feeling well, he/she should stay home. Our baby has a cold right now. It is
drying up, but if she does not sleep well tonight and still needs lots of
tissues today, I will keep her home tomorrow.
Other guidelines: If there is a fever over 101, the child should stay home
until they are fever-free for day. This is a good policy. I felt bad one
time when I sent my child back to daycare after I thought a fever was gone
and it spiked up again. The child should definitely stay home if there is
vomiting going on until they are vomit-free for a day. We had 2 incidents
where a child vomitted the previous night and the parents sent them in the
next day instead of keeping them home. The virus spread like wild-fire to
all the children and the teachers. The providers were extremely grateful
when I kept my child home after she vomitted.
I suggest that you talk to your daycare provider and try to come to an
agreement about sniffles versus bad colds. Then try to make alternate
arrangements for when your child is too sick for daycare.
Most daycare/preschools I visited and the one my daughter goes to are
not as restrictive as the one your child goes to in terms of illness
guidelines. For one, kids are contagious before they are symptomatic
with lots of things, so you'll never be able to prevent things from
spreading in that type of environment completely. Secondly, a clear
mucus could also be symptoms of allergies or teething or other types
of things. That being said, and you probably already knew that, my
experience is that if the kid is feverish, lethargic or otherwise
obviously real sick with something, they have to stay home. Even
non-clear mucus isn't always something to freak out about! And
diahrea (sp?) has been symptomatic in my daughter for teething too. I
agree with you; if I had to keep my kid out at the sign of any kind of
illness, I'd be unemployed too. And you get a bunch of kids together,
that's what happens! You might call a couple of other places and see
what their guidelines are as well...
As a microbiologist and a mom, I think I can answer this question.
First, it is a fallacy that green/yellow mucus is a reason to send a
child home. All this indicates is the later stages of a cold or a
sinus infection. Since colds generally aren't contagious in later
stages and sinus infections aren't contagious at all, there is no
reason to exclude children with green/yellow mucus from the nose.
Also, I would like to know your daycare's basis for excluding children
with clear mucus. Children tend to have runny noses for a week or two
after the contagious phase of the cold has passed. So, again, no
reason to exclude per se. Now, if they are using it as a marker to
indicate a "fresh" cold, this may have some validity. They should be
excluding children in the first 2 to 3 days of a cold (as this is the
time the cold is most contagious - although this varies from virus to
virus, and I'm not sure anyone really knows how long a cold is
contagious). Children are also contagious just prior to symptoms.
So, I would: One, ask them for a more detailed exclusion policy.
Clear mucus alone isn't a good reason. Second, is the daycare doing
enough infection control? They should be washing hard toys with soap
and warm or hot water every night. They should also immediately wash
any hard toy that has been put in a child's mouth or gotten mucus on
it. Soft toys that can't be washed on a nightly basis should be used
one day, then taken out of circulation for two days (to give time for
any viruses on them to die). If soft toys go in a child's mouth or
get mucus on them, they should be immediately removed from circulation
and washed or not used for two days. Also, childen should be
encouraged to wash their hands frequently and sneeze into their
shoulders (as should day care providers). If they sneeze into their
hands, their hands should be immediately washed. Day care providers
should also go home if they are sick (and be excluded for a couple of
days also). Studies have shown that if these measures are instituted,
there will be a significant decrease in the number of colds and
influenzas passed around. This will make everyone's life easier.
Hope this helps.
A runny nose with clear mucus isn't necessarily a sign of contagion. It
could be allergies, and definitely not a reason to exclude a child from
daycare. Also, a child who has a runny nose caused by cold or flu
probably got the bug at daycare and/or has exposed everyone there
already. A runny nose is grounds for exclusion when it occurs in
addition to a fever, lack of energy, or when it cannot be contained by
Bananas has a handout which covers this topic, and spells out
guidelines for caregivers. I believe it is titled "Establishing
Illness Policies". I'd call them, or drop by and pick up a copy.
this page was last updated: Jan 31, 2011
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network