Chapter 17, Promoting/Protecting Health of Child Care Providers

Adult getting vaccineA major health hazard for child care providers is caused by a tendency to ignore their own health needs in order to meet children’s needs first. It is important to recognize that only when they care for themselves by keeping truly well and healthy can they provide the best care for children.


Infectious diseases are common in child care centers and homes. Most are not serious. However, since child care providers care for a number of young children, many of whom cannot control their secretions and have not yet learned principles of hygiene, there is the potential for spread of infections among provider children, children’s families and into the community. 

Therefore, it is important that the provider (child care center or home) be familiar with the infections common to child care and the measures to contain them.

Adult washing handsTwo important barriers that help prevent the spread of infection:

  • Immunization and appropriate hygiene practices. Vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (the adult Tdap vaccine), varicella (or clinician documented chicken pox) and polio are strongly recommended for providers. Vaccination for hepatitis B should also be considered. Also, an annual vaccine against the influenza virus is strongly recommended.
  • Hand washing. Hand washing is the most important way to reduce the spread of infection. Careful hand washing should be done at the following times:
    • Upon arrival for the day or when moving from one child care group to another.
    • Before and after eating, handling food, feeding a child, giving medication or playing in water that is used by more than one person.
    • After diapering; using the toilet; helping a child use a toilet; or handling any bodily fluid from sneezing; coughing or contact with sores (such as mucus, blood and vomit).
    • After handling uncooked food (especially raw meat or poultry), handling pets or other animals, playing in sandboxes or handling the garbage.


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