Saving Your Sick Days: When Do Your Kids REALLY Need to Stay home from School/Daycare

By: Michelle Place, CRNP-CP
Two thirds of children under the age of six are cared for in out of home early education or childcare. The infants in these group daycare centers experience approximately 8 -10 respiratory infections per year, 3 to 4 times the rate of kindergarten-age children. As a result, almost half of parent work absences are due to sick children being excluded from daycare. In fact, a parent of a child younger than 6 years can expect to lose 6 to 29 days of work per year caring for a sick child.
It All Comes Out in the Wash
Do not fret, Working Parents. You can put those guilty feelings aside because after the first 2 years of life children who are continuously enrolled in child care programs experience approximately the same incidence of illness as children who are cared for at home. It gets even better, children who are cared for in large group child care in their infancy, toddler, and preschool years experience significantly fewer upper respiratory tract infections in their first 5 years of school, compared with those primarily cared for at home or in a small child care setting.
 Who Should Stay Home?
With all of your sick days at stake it is important to know when your child should be kept home from daycare for their own good as well as for the benefit of the other children. Decisions about exclusion should be based on the behavior of the sick child and the risk of spread of infectious disease to other children and staff.
A mildly ill child should be kept home if the illness:
(1) is preventing participation in activities
(2) requires care that is greater than staff can provide without compromising the health and safety of others, or
(3) poses a risk of spread of harmful disease to others. Due to the fact that vaccines have substantially reduced the incidence of many harmful infectious diseases, exclusion for this reason is not common.
The chart below reviews common symptoms, how they should be managed, and when it is reasonable to return to daycare:

Minor ailments that do not warrant using one of your precious sick days are listed in the chart below:

Conditions That Do NOT Require Exclusion from Daycare

I Need a Note
Despite the fact that health care professionals usually determine when a child has recovered from illness by asking the parent if the child seems well, many daycare professionals request a doctor’s note for the child to return to care There is no evidence that these required health care visits and notes enhance the health of the child or others at the child care setting, yet they are a requirement in many state child care licensing guidelines.
(Information in this article taken from Pediatrics in Review Vol.35 No.5 May 2014)
So, if you need a note for your child to return to their daycare setting following an illness call us at Potomac Pediatrics on (301) 279-6750 for a same day sick appointment.