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From Sniffles to Shutdowns: Understanding Daycare Sick Policies

In the world of parenting, unexpected challenges are par for the course. One challenge that often catches parents off guard is the closure of daycare centers due to staffing issues. Fixed costs such as staff and facilities persist, making it necessary for parents to pay for the entire period, even if their child is absent due to illness. But what happens when the daycare itself closes its doors due to a surge in staff sickness? This is a predicament faced by many parents, and it raises questions about the prevalence of such situations, especially in the midst of the ongoing health concerns.

Now, I am personally far enough removed from living this nightmare day to day, but still it's recent enough that my empathy is in overdrive when I revisit this topic with friends and family. High quality childcare is wildly unaffordable even when your kiddo attends 100% of the eligible days. It becomes insufferable... and straight up UNFAIR when you pay 100% and your kid attends 10% of that month.

Live From the Group Chat:

"Ughhhhh - just got hit with an email: daycare's closed for a few days thanks to a staff sick leave spree. Anyone else in the same boat?"

"Girl, don't get me started. We've got this 'volunteer day' off routine now, where we keep the kiddo home while still forking over cash to keep the lights on. It's like paying for a vacation you never wanted."

Let’s break it down…

Understanding Daycare Sick Policies:

In the realm of childcare, sick policies play a pivotal role in navigating these unexpected closures. A daycare sick policy is not just a bureaucratic requirement; from runny noses to raging fevers, parents need a roadmap for handling the sniffles and sneezes. It's not just about keeping one kid out; it's about safeguarding the whole crew. But do parents really know and understand these policies? It's vital for childcare centers to communicate their sick policies effectively to parents, providing clear guidelines on when to keep a child at home and the criteria for their return to the center. 

The Need for Detailed Policies:

Childcare centers should include comprehensive sick policies in their family handbooks, offering parents a roadmap for handling illnesses. These policies are often provided in the form of a “Family Handbook” and are generally designed to ensure that sick children receive the necessary care and rest without jeopardizing the health of others in the facility.

Pro Tip - The policy should cover various aspects, including symptoms that warrant keeping a child at home, the duration of the exclusion period, and any specific steps parents need to take for their child's return including time spent at home and/or a doctor’s note to return. It should also include the expectations for payment when a child doesn’t attend due to illness and detail if and when refunds, partial payment and credits are provided due staff illness results in center closings. 

Regular Updates to Stay Compliant:

In a world where infectious diseases like COVID-19 can rapidly evolve, it's crucial for daycare centers to regularly update their sick policies. This not only helps in staying compliant with state regulations but also allows centers to adapt to new challenges. By keeping policies current, childcare centers can address the unique circumstances presented by emerging illnesses and better protect the health of the children in their care.

Pro Tip- Check the date that the policies or Family Handbooks were written or updated, ideally these policies should be refined every year, or two, to ensure compliance with local regulations.  If you don’t see a published or printed date - it’s important to ask how often the program updates their policies, what prompts them to make changes and when the last changes were made. 

Wrapping it up:

As parents, understanding and advocating for clear daycare sick policies is essential. The unexpected closure of daycare centers due to staffing issues might be more common than we think, but with informed parents and proactive childcare centers, we can collectively navigate these challenges and prioritize the health and well-being of our children. As a parent who has survived this phase, I am here to tell you that IT DOES GET BETTER. Your kids will get sick less often in elementary school, closings will be mostly planned, and there’s a substitute teacher list ready every morning. Until then, hang in there… The Groundhog predicted an early Spring!

Here to commiserate if you need me...




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