How Sick is Too Sick for Day Care?

When it comes to day care drop offs, it can be a sticky situation if you know your child is coming down with a bug. Do you still send them to day care or do you keep them home?

Your spouse is out of town, your office is short-staffed and your toddler woke up with a sore throat and runny nose — uh oh! Many households today rely on two working parents and depend on child care to get through the workday, especially daycare.
When it comes to day care drop offs, it can be a sticky situation if you know your child is coming down with a bug. Do you still send them to day care or do you keep them home? Don’t make snap decisions when it comes to your child’s health — be prepared and familiarize yourself with policies before problems arise.

Know the Rules
It’s inevitable that your child will come down with something this winter. A group child care environment like day care is a wonderful environment for kids to play and learn, but can also be a breeding ground for germs.
When you’re interviewing child care facilities, ask what their sick policies are: If your child is out sick, when is he or she allowed to return?
Pink eye and the common cold are two of the most prevalent illnesses easily passed from child to child. The Montreal Children’s Hospital advises to keep children home if they have a fever above 100 degrees.
Remember, young children in group care will get sick because they have very underdeveloped immune systems. It is the nature of this stage of development. When looking for a child care centre, ask questions about their hand-washing and cleaning procedures to ensure your child is being cared for by a provider that limits the spread of infection as much as possible.

Make Good Decisions
We have all made impulse decisions during crunch time, especially when it’s a big day at work. Know the consequences of sending your child in sick. Child care centres often have strict policies on how they limit the spread of germs and that includes sending your child home when the first signs of illness are detected. Also keep in mind that if you do send your child in sick, you run the risk that their condition will worsen and they might end up having to stay home for an extended amount of time because of it.
Overall, your child will have a better chance of a fast recovery in their own home where they will receive the TLC they need and you will have avoided potentially passing on the sickness to the care providers and other children at the day care centre.

Balance Work and Home Life
Let’s face it, children have a habit of getting sick often and, as any working parent knows, handling a sick child and work is a balancing act. So it’s best to prepare before your child gets sick.
Having a conversation with your boss is key to a smooth cold and flu season. Find out what your office’s policies and procedures are when parents need to tend to sick children. Can you work from home? Is a system already in place for possible job shares in the event your child is sick? Most businesses understand when a child is home sick, but frown upon you taking advantage of their generosity. Be sure to be gracious and appreciative of the time off and figure out how to make up for lost hours.

Develop a Family Sick Plan
Have your own “in case of illness” procedure prepared. Once you know your office’s policies, you and your partner can decide what works best in your home. Consider taking turns staying home or each working a half day (one parent works in the morning, while the other goes into the office in the afternoon). For single parents, this is more challenging. Find out if nearby family and friends can help if your child’s needs last minute care. And of course look for back up childcare on!

It’s important for parents to discuss all of the options for “sick” days with child care centres and employers. Keeping an open dialogue prior to cold and flu season will result in less stress for parents and a sense of control over those nasty, wandering viruses.



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