Children get sick from time to time throughout the year. Preschool children at home catch between six and eight respiratory illnesses (coughs and colds) each year, as well as one or two digestive illnesses (such as diarrhea or an upset stomach). Children in child care centers usually have about the same number of respiratory illnesses, but more digestive illnesses. The number of digestive illnesses is dramatically reduced in those centers with strict hand-washing practices.
For a working parent, even minor illnesses can cause enormous difficulties. Children often get sick at unexpected and inconvenient times, and it can be hard to make a quick decision before work about how serious an illness really is. Unless you have found a center or home provider who can take mildly ill children, your child's illness can mean a day—or several days—at home.
Remember to ask whoever is taking care of your child about the policies for mildly ill children. Some family child care homes and centers can include sick children, but many do not. Most have certain guidelines and policies that might specify, for example, how much of a fever your child has to have before they will call you and ask that you come and take your child home.
Since illness is unpredictable, you can't reserve care in advance. Cover yourself with as many prearranged plans as you can make. Call a child care consultant at the program that sent you this booklet to discuss the care options that may be available to you.
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