Parents and Families
When Is a Child Too Sick to Attend Child Care?
Produced by the Community Care Licensing Division of the California Department of Social Services
[A family child care provider greets a mother and two children.]
Am I going to see you tomorrow? I like your hairstyle. It’s cute. Yeah. Is she going to come tomorrow?
I think so, yeah. ‘Cause she was doing–she was doing much better today. It’s just last night, she just–
Series Host onscreen:
One of the main ways to keep children in childcare healthy is to limit their exposure to children with obvious signs of illness. That means that when your child has an illness that could pose a health risk to others, you will need to keep your child at home. And if they become sick while in care, you will need to pick them up as soon as possible. In this video, we’ll cover some guidelines for families that will enable you to know when you should keep your child away from a childcare setting, what precautions childcare providers are required to take to identify children who are too ill to attend childcare, and what happens if a child becomes ill while in care.
[Two licensing representatives speak.]
Community Care Licensing Representative 1:
Community Care Licensing has requirements that help protect children in the event of illness.
Community Care Licensing Representative 2:
Childcare centers and family childcare homes both have specific requirements concerning children who become ill while in care.
CCL Rep 1:
A provider may have additional policies in place to help reduce the spread of infectious diseases, and get children the help they need.
CCL Rep 2:
By working together with your child’s provider, you can help keep childcare facilities healthy and safe places for all children.
[The host speaks, and the questions she asks are displayed on a white board.]
When is a child too sick to attend child care?
Licensing regulations state that children with obvious signs of illness, such as fever and/or vomiting, cannot be accepted into a childcare facility.
[A poster about signs of illness in children briefly appears.]
Another requirement is that children with communicable diseases should not attend childcare until the period of contagion is passed. Examples of the kinds of illnesses that can be contagious include pink eye, whooping cough, and severe colds and flu. If you are unsure if your child’s condition is contagious, contact your healthcare provider. When your child is ill, and if you are unable to stay at home with your child, it’s important to have a backup caregiver, a family member, friend, or neighbor. A childcare facility is not a place where a child should go to recover from illness.
How do childcare providers screen for illness in children?
Upon arrival, childcare center staff will make sure your child is well enough to be in care. If your child attends a family childcare home, those providers are not required by licensing regulations to conduct a daily wellness check.
[A family child care provider sits with an assistant.]
They won’t be here today, and that’s because they have a cold, runny nose. I’ve already noticed that Cruz has a sight cough, so we want to be aware.
Noah has a cough too.
Okay, I didn’t know that. So, at some point during the day, we may have to call their parents to pick them up.
However, they will know that such a check is considered a best practice for any program serving young children. Clearly, checking the health of each child helps minimize the spread of infection in the childcare facility.
What if a child becomes sick while in child care?
I didn’t blow my nose, so that’s why I’m coughing.
You blew your nose, and that’s why you’re not feeling so well?
All childcare facilities must have a designated isolation area in the event that a child becomes sick while in care. Childcare centers are also required to have a separate bathroom that a sick child can use. If a child becomes ill enough to be isolated while at the facility, the family will be called immediately so that the child will be picked up by an authorized person as soon as possible.
Also, any unusual behavior, any injury, or any signs of illness requiring assessment and/or administration of first aid by staff at any childcare facility must be reported to the child’s family and documented in the child’s records.
Let’s remember these key points about when a child is too sick to attend childcare. Keeping children who are sick away from childcare definitely reduces the chance of spreading infection to other children and adults. It’s also beneficial for sick children to be away from childcare, especially if they are in pain, or too uncomfortable to play or interact with others. When both family members and childcare providers follow licensing regulations and the practices we’ve discussed, illnesses can be kept from spreading, and children can recover and return to childcare as quickly as possible.
State of California