Health and Safety Tips for Child Providers
Posted on August 28, 2020 by CHS
Health and Safety Tips for Child Care Providers
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) requires that child care providers follow strict guidelines for health and safety practices in order to prevent the occurrence or spread of illness among the children and families in their programs. These guidelines are also in place to help protect the health of child care program owners and staff. The following resources will help you develop a plan and routine for promoting the health and safety of children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Establish Policies and Procedures
Review and update your current policies and procedures for health and safety to make sure they align with the expectations and requirements of Community Care Licensing (CCL) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Understand that because the COVID-19 pandemic is unpredictable, your procedures may need to be adjusted frequently. It is important to be flexible and maintain good communication with staff and parents so that everyone can be notified immediately of any changes.
As you review current health and safety protocols, you may find differences between the information. If you encounter contradictory information, it is best to follow the strictest guidance. Please review the CCL and CDPH websites for current guidance. If you have any questions regarding regulations and requirements, contact your local CCL office.
CCL has released a number of Provider Information Notices (PINs) that explain the current requirements for providing healthy and safe care during the COVID-19 state of emergency, as well as information about licenses, waivers, health and safety alerts, financial assistance, and frequently asked questions. You can read all the PINs related to care during COVID-19 and access other resources on the CCL website. The website is updated frequently and it is recommended you check it regularly for new information and sign up to receive alerts. You can also visit COVID-19.ca.gov for general guidance on reopening businesses, as well as updated guidance for child care providers and a Checklist for Child Care you can post in your facility.
If you need resources for establishing policies and procedures, visit the EveryChild California website which offers a variety of resources including an Opening and Re-Opening, A Practitioner Support Guide, checklists, webinars, planning tools and forms, emergency preparedness information, signs, and Human Resources documents. The California for All Kids website also has resources for safely re-opening child care facilities, such as health and safety considerations, financial relief, and more. Visit the California Department of Education website for information related to reopening schools. Child Care Aware of America has resources for opening and operating a child care center or family child care home. If you are reopening, you may want to start by welcoming a small group of children into your program to see if you need to adjust your policies and procedures before accepting more children.
Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting
The California Childcare Health Program has a resource page with information related to COVID-19 and tools you can use for following current protocols related to morning health checks and keeping the environment clean, disinfected, and sanitized. Caring for Our Children (CFOC) is a collection of national health and safety performance standards in early care and education programs. The appendices section has useful charts and checklists for developing a cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting schedule for your facility. For example, you can learn how to choose an appropriate sanitizer and disinfectant, or print and post the Routine Schedule for Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting. Use these tools to develop your own schedule and set of procedures for cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting the environment and materials that are being used by staff and children.
Some ideas to consider are using bins, boxes, washable cloth tote bags, or sealable plastic bags to create individual toy sets which can be easily rotated and cleaned. You can also use a plastic bin with an image of a red stop sign taped on it for collecting toys that require cleaning. Help children associate the color red with the meaning of the stop sign by talking with them about the ways we can all help stop the spread of germs by putting toys we are done using in that bin so they can be cleaned. The stop sign will help adults and children remember they should not use those toys until they are washed. Remove any toys or materials that cannot be easily cleaned, sanitized, and disinfected from the child care environment. Spend as much time as possible playing outdoors, and keep indoor areas well-ventilated.
Health Checks, Physical Distancing, and Face Masks
A challenging health and safety practice for child care providers may be physical distancing, also called social distancing, or having children wear a face mask. All adults should be wearing masks, and children over the age of two should be encouraged to wear a mask as long as they can do so safely. Share this booklet with families so that they can talk about how wearing a mask helps everyone stay healthy, and ask them to practice wearing face coverings at home to gain familiarity and comfort with masks. Refer to CCL’s PIN 20-14-CPP, which provides resources for the social and emotional well-being of children during the pandemic.
All caregivers need to perform a health check for themselves before starting their workday and stay at home if they have a fever or feel unwell. Ask families to also perform a health check before leaving their home, and be sure to conduct a second health check of the children when they arrive. This can be done by taking their temperature and looking for signs of a respiratory illness. Check children’s health throughout the day and encourage them to wash their hands frequently.
Develop a schedule for staggering drop off times, or ask families to wait in their cars until you signal it is their turn to enter the facility. If it is necessary for parents to enter your facility to drop off or pick up their children, then require them to wear a mask and immediately wash their hands upon entering. Change the sign-in/out pen after each use, and if possible set up an outdoor space for drop-off and pick-up. If you are caring for infants, or if a child needs to be comforted, wear a cloth apron you can change between children, or keep two or three changes of clothes on hand. Follow the updated guidance from CCL for planning arrivals, departures, conducting health checks, cleaning, and maintaining safe ratios.
Set up your environment to allow for natural physical distancing. For example, only place one or two chairs at a table, use low shelves to separate play areas, use trays for table activities, and hula hoops or washable mats to define space on the carpet or outside. Set up individual activities like painting at an easel, or using small dish tubs for individual sensory activities. Tie knots in a long rope to indicate where children should hold on while taking walks outside. Place inexpensive garden containers in different spaces outside and ask each child to work in their own garden. This is a time to be resourceful and creative!
Tips for Saving Energy to Help Prevent Service Interruptions
The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) released a publication encouraging residents in California to reduce and manage energy usage in order to prevent service interruptions. You can review the suggestions for moderating energy usage and other resources in this publication.
- Child Care Law Center for legal updates and assistance
- Child Care Aware of America has resources and recorded webinars
- Early Childhood Investigations webinars about child care and COVID-19
- The Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC) free COVID-19 and Early Care and Education Considerations before Reopening Module
- World Health Organization (WHO) resources related to caring for children during the pandemic
- California Department of Public Health (CDPH) for COVID-19 updates
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for general information
- Harvard Graduate School of Education Usable Knowledge website and Education Now webinar talks
- California Early Childhood Online (CECO) offers free health and safety training modules for early educators