The purpose of a health and safety policy in a child care setting is to provide parents with a written statement of the procedures in place to protect their children. The policy protects child care providers, as well, by detailing the training and procedure standards that need to be followed on a daily basis. To ensure that parents and staff read and understand the policy, provide two copies and request that a signed copy be returned prior to attendance or employment.
According to the California Child Care Health Program, the policy should call for hand-washing by staff and children at arrival, when moving from one child care group to another, after handling pets or bodily fluid and before and after eating or handling food. Children and staff also need to wash hands after toileting and diapering, administering medication, sand or water play, or handling garbage or uncooked food. The policy should include provisions for sanitizing counters and table surfaces, toys, bathrooms and diaper changing areas, as well as for weekly cleaning of all bed linens used by the children.
The policy should identify criteria for the exclusion of ill children from the program. Symptoms requiring exclusion include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, discharge from the eye or others resulting from a known contagious illness. If any of these symptoms are the result of a non-contagious issue, documentation from the child's physician should be required. The policy also needs to provide for the exclusion of a child whose illness prevents him or her from participating in activities or prevents the caregiver from providing quality care to other children.
Provision for Emergency
The health and safety policy should include plans for emergencies. Detail the policy for transporting a child to a health care facility, including a statement that the parent will be notified as soon as it is practical. Include provisions for staff training in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and for locating and using fire extinguishers. Detail procedures in the event of a fire or weather emergency, and call for a current listing of emergency numbers, including contact numbers for parents.
A child care health and safety policy details provisions for the transporting of children, including the requirement that a signed permission form be on file for each child. The policy needs to address the mode of transportation, the credentials of the drivers, the car seat policy and the routine maintenance of the vehicle.
Background and Medical Clearance
To meet licensing and registration standards, each adult who comes into contact with children in any capacity in a child care facility must receive background and medical clearance, and adherence to this regulation should be addressed in the health and safety policy. The policy should clearly state the background and medical check process, indicating the type of records or history that would disqualify an adult from working or volunteering at the facility.