Well it comes as no surprise to parents that children attending childcare, whether it be Family Day Care, Long Day Care, or Grandma’s care, experience a greater number of illnesses than children who are looked after by a sole carer. Research has shown this is due to the sharing of ‘germs’ which always happens when a group of people congregate. As a childcare provider, we do as much as possible to reduce this type of sharing.

All our staff are fully immunised, in fact most have extra immunisations for Whooping Cough and Hepatitis which are not required in the general population. We encourage hand washing, using soap and warm running water, which the NSW Department of Health suggests is the principal means of reducing transmission.

Educators adhere to a strict nappy change procedure which is designed to prevent any cross contamination. Disposable gloves are worn when cleaning up spills of blood or body fluids, and when touching food.

Our cleaning program is rigorous and includes use of antiviral sprays, anti bacterial cleaners and general soap and water. Our toys are washed in high heat in dishwashers, washing machines or, if unsuitable for either of those, we place toys in an onion bag (the type that you might buy your onions in) and these are then washed in hot water and eucalyptus oil and left in the sun to dry. Floors are mopped with eucalyptus oil during the day as well as given a full scrub by cleaners every night when contract cleaners go through the Centre. Rugs are regularly hosed and sun-dried, carpets are steam-cleaned every two months and even our air conditioners are cleaned and sterilised every term. Our rooms are fully aired with fresh air every day, even in winter.

Yet still, illnesses continue to be shared in the childcare setting.

Illness not only affects our children but also our educators who are then unable to attend for their shift. This means a casual replacement educator will be looking after children which can sometimes be distressing if they are unknown.

Unfortunately unwell children are sometimes brought into the Centre. Often these illnesses are not apparent at the time the parent drops a child off to a service, or children become ill during the course of the day. Rarely, parents are aware of their child’s illness and dose them up on Paracetamol before they are dropped off. This is particularly unfair on other families as the illness will spread.

In order to protect your child, other children and our educators, we ask that you monitor your child’s health and capacity to attend child care.

Children who are unwell need to be at home in a quiet environment to aid their recovery. Some early signs of illness in children are:

  • Sleeping at unusual times or for much longer than usual
  • Having a fever of 38C or above
  • Crying constantly as a result of discomfort due to illness
  • Reacting badly to medications
  • Demonstrating a need of constant one to one care
  • Being clingy and wanting to be held

Our policy requires a 24 hour clearance before your child is well enough to attend after:

  • High temperature
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Cold or flu symptoms
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Impetigo (school sores)
  • Contagious diseases, such as hand, foot and mouth.

If all of our parents adhered to this request, illness spread through our population would be greatly reduced.

About the author: All round go-getter, Susanna Christie, is the Executive Director of Columba Cottage Early Learning Centre, where she leads a passionate team of 50 staff who love what they do, caring for children ranging in age from 6 weeks to 6 years. With a background in teaching from pre-school through to university, Susanna is passionate about all aspects of child development and wellbeing. Her qualifications include a Masters in Education, Bachelor of Teaching and a Graduate Diploma in Educational Studies. Susanna’s aim is to ensure that Columba Cottage remains the best Early Learning Centre on the Mid North Coast.