Fact sheets for childcare workers

Childcare training fact sheets can offer guidelines to keep workers and children healthy.

The Partnership for Food Safety provides Childcare Training fact sheets outlining protocol for exclusion of childcare workers and children to minimize the spread of pathogens and bacteria. The fact sheets reports “the immune system of children under 24 months is not fully developed, making them particularly vulnerable to pathogens that cause gastrointestinal illnesses. In addition, the infectious doses (minimum amount of infectious agent required to cause illness) for some pathogens in a susceptible host are quite low.”

For example, as reported in the training fact sheets, “an infectious dose of human norovirus is estimated to be as low as 10 to 100 viral particles.” Pathogens can survive on environmental surfaces or human hands long enough for transmission to other susceptible hosts. The transmission of pathogens to children can happen in many ways, including while they are interacting with childcare workers.

Childcare workers that care for non-toilet trained children are at risk for contracting intestinal pathogens. Fecal-oral contamination is responsible for a variety of infectious disease hazards within the daycare setting. Pathogens commonly transmitted through the fecal oral route include Hepatitis A, Cryptosporidium, Giardia, Shigella, Campylobacter and Norovirus among others.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these guidelines:

Children who play in groups have an increased risk of infectious diseases. When a child with a contagious illness has an infection it is passed to another person. Below are things you can do today to keep the children in a day care setting as healthy as possible.

  1. Use good hand washing practices. This is easier when there are sinks with warm water, soap, disposable towels and easy-to-understand instructions in each room or near where the activities take place. Show children how you wash your own hands, and encourage them to wash their hands.
  2. Clean and disinfect surfaces available to the children including floors, equipment, toys and objects that children might put in their mouths (thermometers, pacifiers and teething toys).
  3. Children must have up-to-date immunizations for participation in the program. The health form that you keep on file should include given immunizations. Remind parents to ask the health care provider to update the form each time their child receives a "check-up." All staff members must have up-to-date immunizations because they can also get sick, or give transmit diseases to the kids.
  4. Tell mothers why breastfeeding is good for babies. Breast milk both nourishes babies and protects them from getting sick. Encourage mothers to visit and nurse their baby during the day.
  5. Encourage healthy eating and nutrition, good hand washing skills and a safe, healthy place for children to play and learn. Talk to a healthcare professional about things that you can do to prevent diseases. A childcare health consultant can help you develop and carry out written policies for prevention and control of infectious disease.

Michigan State University Extension recommends washing your hands frequently throughout the day. By frequently washing your hands, the risks presented by bacteria, germs and viruses can be reduced. Hand washing can also be a defense against colds and influenza. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that washing hands with soap and water may do the best job of removing foodborne pathogens and other bad bugs that can lead to illness.

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