What Parents Need to Know About Exposure to Communicable Disease
As a child care provider, you join hands with parents in your efforts to create a healthy environment for children in your care. You and the parents will benefit from the communication of your health and safety policies, health and safety messages and new knowledge gained on health and safety issues. You are also required to inform parents when children in your care are exposed to a communicable disease.
This health and safety note will help you prepare a written notice to parents about exposure of their children to a communicable disease. The notice will alert them to watch for signs of that illness and seek medical advice when necessary.
Please keep in mind that when notifying parents about exposure, the confidentiality of the ill person should be maintained. You should not report the name of the child, other family member, or staff member who is ill to other parents. Let the parents of an ill child know ahead of time that you will be sending exposure notices to other parents but will not mention any names.
Reporting Communicable Diseases to Outside Agencies
All licensed child care programs are required to report outbreaks of some communicable diseases to both Community Care Licensing and the local public health department. A list of those diseases which are reportable in California is included on the final page of this note. An outbreak is defined as two or more known or suspected cases of a disease. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends that child care providers report even if there is only a single case, to ensure that the local Public Health Department is aware that this serious illness is present in a child care setting.
When you report to licensing and your local health department, the parents of the children must be informed that you are required to report the disease. The children’s health care providers are also required to report communicable disease to the health department. We encourage you to work closely with the local health department to reassure and inform parents and staff.
The requirement to report communicable diseases to the local health department applies to any licensed facility, whether it is a center or family child care home. However, we strongly encourage unlicensed providers to report communicable diseases as well and work closely with their local health department.
Just as child care providers have an obligation to report when children in care are exposed to a communicable disease, parents have the same obligation to report diseases to the child care program within 24 hours of a diagnosis, even if they keep their child at home. That way, the child care provider can alert other parents to watch for signs of that illness in their children and seek medical advice when necessary.
Distribute and explain your exclusion policies to parents and staff before illness arises. Have a clear, up-to-date exclusion policy for illness and provide parents with a copy when they enroll their child in your program. Ask your health consultant or a health professional to review it periodically. Writing a sound policy and enforcing it consistently will help reduce conflicts. Make sure all staff understand the policies and how to enforce them.
Please call the Healthline at (800) 333-3212 for more information.
Reprinted with the permission of the California Childcare Health Program.
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