Does Your Daycare Send Your Child Home When They Are Only Mildly Ill?

According to a survey of daycare centers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, daycares are sending children home too easily. Children who are no longer contagious are being sent home, causing parents to have to scramble to find alternative care while they are at work.

Dr. Andrew N. Hashikawa of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee says children are being sent home when it is not medically necessary for them to be home. This practice is counter to what health care officials recommend for daycare centers to do. According to Dr. Hashikawa, by the time children are showing symptoms they are already past the point of being contagious and no longer a threat to other children. In fact, by then the germs have already been passed around.

Sending children home for minor conditions, such as pink eye, ringworm or mild fever, causes a considerable amount of strain on parents. Working parents lose income and must use sick days unnecessarily to care for children who don’t need to be at home.

The survey interviewed 305 daycare center directors. The directors were asked about several scenarios where a child might present a minor illness. In each of the scenarios, a kid with a cold, a light fever, pink eye, ringworm, or loose stools, the guidelines recommend that the child stay in the daycare center at the time. However, of the directors interviewed almost one-third said they would send the child home. Over 50 percent of children would be sent home unnecessarily according to the survey results.

“There are conditions where you’d obviously send a kid home. We found that oftentimes they are sent home when they really don’t need to be,” said Dr. Hashikawa.

Dr. Hashikawa and Calvin Moore, Jr., president of the National Association for Family Child Care, both feel that directors need to be more familiar with the guidelines already in place for dealing with sick children. Moore feels knowledge of the guidelines should be part of the licensing requirements for daycare directors. – Summer, staff writer

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About the author


Summer is a mom of three, living life in the slow lane along historic Route 66. She writes, homeschools, gardens, and is still trying to learn how to knit.

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