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When Is Your Child Too Ill to Go to Child Care?

How do you know if your child is too ill to go to child care? How sick is too sick? This episode will help you identify the signs to help you determine when your child should stay home.

Deciding when to keep a sick child out of child care can be difficult, especially with parents’ busy schedules and the never-ending demands of work or school. But, the following questions can help guide your decision:

  • Will the child be able to comfortably participate in the program’s normal activities?
  • Will the child’s illness require more attention than the staff can give?
  • Will the sick child affect the health and safety of other children?

If your child has an oral fever of 100 degrees or more, he or she should be excluded from child care. Additionally, watch out for the following symptoms which indicate your child should stay home:

  • Unusual spots, rashes, or bruises not associated with injury
  • Sore throat or difficulty swallowing
  • Infected skin patches
  • Unusually dark, tea-colored urine
  • Grey or white bowel movement
  • Headache and stiff neck
  • Vomiting for 2 or more episodes in 24 hours
  • Unusual behavior such as feeling cranky; general discomfort or seems unwell; and/or cries more than usual.
  • Child does not feel well enough to participate in the normal activities of the program
  • Loss of appetite
  • Earache

Some common childhood illnesses that your child could be experiencing are pink eye, ear infection, the common cold, strep throat, diarrhea, pinworm, impetigo, ringworm, lice, scabies, chicken pox, roseola, or meningitis. You should always contact your child’s pediatrician if you suspect a health issue or if your child’s symptoms persist or worsen. You can also find a full list of illnesses, causes, and recommended actions in our brochure, When is Your Child Too Ill to go to Child Care, located on our website at www.chs-ca.org

Child care providers are encouraged to follow their individual program’s exclusion policies. As a parent, it is helpful for you to be familiar with your child care provider’s policy as well as your employer’s policy on time off and prepare a back-up plan for other child care options on those unexpected days.

Remember that if sick children are kept at home, everyone will stay healthier.

To learn more about helping your children to stay healthy and to access other brochures and podcasts on important parenting topics, visit Children’s Home Society of California’s website at www.chs-ca.org. 

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