Outdated Ideas About Minor Illnesses Are Creating A Major Headache For Parents

If you’ve got young children in daycare, you know that center directors are always very cautious when illnesses are going around.

But, let’s face it, when kids are together, they’re going to get each other sick – especially with easily-transmitted illnesses like the common cold.

And while it’s important to remain vigilant, some daycare regulations about common illnesses can cause parents a major headache.

We’ve all gotten a call at one time or another – we must immediately pick up our child from daycare because they are sick.

Often, center directors will tell us our child cannot return to the center for 24 hours, even if it’s a minor illness that they likely picked up while there.

But some centers are taking it one step further by telling parents that they must provide a doctor’s note or even put their child on antibiotics before they return.

This puts parents in a tough spot when they have to not only leave work to pick up their child, but also make a doctor’s appointment – and foot the bill for it.

Minor illnesses like colds and pink eye are common, and despite evidence that viruses cannot be medically “cured,” many centers push the “doctor/antibiotics” mandate on parents who cannot afford to disregard the center’s policies.

According to the New York Times, research into the topic showed that more than 90 percent of daycare centers have written policies about when parents must keep their children home.

And among the common illnesses most often misunderstood by daycare directors are things like pink eye and diarrhea.  

While children should stay home for a period of time to prevent getting other kids sick, antibiotics by no means help these illnesses.  Yet, daycare staff – who typically have no medical training – continue to push medications before children can return.

The American Academy of Pediatrics does have published guidelines for children who are ill at daycare.

The two most important ones are that children should stay home if they are too ill to participate in activities, or if they require more care than staff can adequately provide.

Another red flag for daycare centers is fever.  Fever can be present with teething or other minor illnesses, but the majority of centers require children to be fever-free for 24 hours.

The AAP notes that unless a fever is accompanied by a sore throat, rash, or vomiting, children are able to stay at daycare.  

Likewise, vomiting can occur with food sensitivities, overactivity after eating, or any number of factors.  Again, the majority of daycare centers require children to go home even if they only vomit once.

The bottom line is, many daycare centers still cling to outdated ideology about childhood illnesses when determining whether a child should be sent home.

Many parents — who already spend a third or more of their income on childcare — become frustrated when they are required to pick up their kids and take them to the doctor several times a year for issues that don’t require a physician’s care.

Runny noses, mild coughs, and even the common cold don’t typically require staying home from daycare, despite staff insistence — let alone a doctor’s visit.

And chances are, by the time symptoms appear, minor illnesses like colds have already been transmitted to their peers.

The outdated advice that children should be treated with antibiotics for every minor illness is dangerous, but it is often still the train of thought in daycare centers.

The forced expense of unnecessary doctor’s appointments, unneeded medications, and often unpaid time off to pick up their children is causing serious financial strain for parents.

So what’s the answer?  

Well, no one wants to expose other children to illness if they suspect their child is sick, but parents must be the judge.  After all, we know our child better than anyone.

And medical experts agree – the most important form of disease prevention in daycare centers is teaching proper hygiene.  Center staff should be focused on hand-washing, proper cleaning of toys and surfaces, and teaching kids that sharing isn’t best when it comes to germs.

Unnecessary treatments forced by daycare center directors and staff are, at best, inconvenient for parents and, at worst, dangerous when they offer medical advice to parents who may not know the facts.

What do you think of some of the forced policies of daycare centers in regard to doctor’s visits, antibiotics, and staying home?  Leave us your comments.

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