When your child is first enrolled in child care, he will come into contact with other children and—germs! Children have immature immune systems, and it takes time to build up antibodies to all of the germs they will be exposed to. The result may lead to illness causing worries and concerns for parents.
When your child is sick, so are you. What parent has not experienced that helpless, sick-to-the-stomach feeling while cradling a feverish, fussy child? While you need to care for your child, you may also need to work. Parents may find themselves asking: Who will take care of my child? Where? Will my employer understand and be flexible if I stay home with my sick child? Can I use my sick leave or personal days to care for him myself? Is there paperwork I can do from home? Can my partner and I take turns caring for him? Will the child care provider care for her?
“What is your policy regarding illness?” is an important question to ask before enrolling your child in child care. Caregivers should enforce strict sick care policies. As a parent, be sure you understand and are willing to follow these rules—they are for the safety of the caregiver, your child, and all the children at the child care.
The caregiver should keep emergency cards near the telephone so parents can be notified quickly in case of illness or accident. Parents should make sure the information on the card is up-to-date. It is the parent’s responsibility to be certain that someone—if not the parent, then a relative or friend—is available to pick up your child in case of illness or accident. The caregiver should also notify parents when a child under her care has been diagnosed with a contagious condition.
Caring for your sick child yourself is the ideal situation for both the parent and child. Yet that is not always possible. Perhaps a grandparent or other family member or trusted neighbor can care for your child. Keep in mind that your child will be healthy most of the time. Make sure you have a back-up plan. By planning ahead and having a child care back-up plan, when she does get sick or the school closes, you will be ready.
Talk to your employer about the sick-leave policy. Some companies allow employees to take sick leave to care for children, while other only allow sick leave to be used by the employee. If your child or another family member is seriously ill, you may qualify for the Family and Medical Leave Act. To learn more about the Family and Medical Leave Act, contact the United States Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, at 1-866-487-9243.