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Child Care Services are the Safest place for children to be right now!

Jun 09, 2021

DISCLAIMER: Valid at time of publication: 9 June 2021. Information contained in this post may be subject to change. Please refer to your local government guidelines for up to date requirements.

Infections are common in children and often lead to illness. Being a group environment, children can be more susceptible to these illnesses. To minimise the risk to children, Child care centers have stringent cleaning and hygiene measures that are in place every day.

 The Department of Health created a "Staying Healthy in Child Care" guide to assist services preventing infectious diseases in early childhood education and care services. This publication is now in its 5th edition.

This guide assists services with best-practice tools to ensure simple and effective ways for educators and other staff to help limit the spread of illness and infectious diseases in education care settings.

Child Care Services undertake Stringent cleaning measures daily including;

  • Effective hand hygiene including educating children how to wash hands effectively as part of our everyday learning
  • Exclusion of ill children, educators, and other staff
  • Immunisation
  • Mouthed toys removed from the environment and washed daily
  • Gloves used for all
  • Cough and sneeze etiquette
  • Effective environmental cleaning

Services continually take recommended safety precautions as recommended in this document such as;

Resting and Sleeping:

When children are resting, their beds are placed head to toe with a minimum distance of 30cms apart to ensure minimal risk of spreading any germs, they bring their sheets from home, and educators sanitise the beds after each use.

Some services are even taking the measure to sleep outdoors to support children’s overall health and immunity.

Nappy Changing:

Staying Healthy in child care also stipulates the process to follow during nappy changes; we wear gloves to protect ourselves and the child, the procedures include; placing a paper towel under the child to protect them and keep the mat hygienic, we dispose of the items in a locked cupboard that is inaccessible to children, we sanitise the changing mat after each use and the children and educators hands are washed after each nappy change.

Meal times:

Mealtimes at most services are carried out in a progressive manner, which means that a small group of children will eat at one time; this ensures that quality conversations can be maintained. Children with allergies are ready to be adequately monitored.

Hands are washed before meals and upon completion and children are encouraged to serve themselves meals using utensils such as tongs or large spoons. Children have their own plate and cutlery, and wash their own dishes after use, prior to being put in the dishwasher which must reach a regulated temperature to kill any germs.

Strict procedures occur for the Preparing, storing and heating of bottles, such as washing hands, ensure all areas are clean and follow the manufacturers instructions carefully.

Cleaning Checklists:

Services have cleaning checklists in place that are conducted daily, and this is imperative to ensure that the cleanliness of the service is consistently maintained. We also have separately labelled mops for each area of the service to ensure we are limiting any cross-contamination occurring. We have specialised instructions for cleaning each area of the service, and the best practice is to use a paper towel, so the germs are thrown away immediately.

Bodily Fluids and Spills:

While many spills can occur within a day at a service; such as blood, urine, faeces or vomit. These are a fact of life, prompt management including the removal of the substance, and cleaning and disinfecting the area, reduces the potential risk to children, educators and other staff in education and care services.

Staying Healthy in child care recognises that prevention is better than a cure. Therefore, services adapt these strategies to prevent bodily fluids, regularly toileting children, using disposable nappies rather than cloth, excluding children with diarrhoea or vomiting, and making sure children play safely. If these spills occur, the service has mandatory procedures which are followed.

Illness procedures:

Our illness procedures are based around the Staying Healthy in childcare recommendations from the health department on the recommended Exclusion periods. Children presenting signs of an illness are excluded for a set period to protect the health and safety of the children within our service.

Policies and Procedures:

We have policies and procedures at the service that guide us in these areas which are based on the Staying Healthy in Child Care Guidelines.

It is not possible to prevent all infections in education and care services. However, by using the strategies outlined here, you can avoid many infectious diseases and control their spread.

During the Covid-19 virus outbreak, our sector is taking extra necessary precautions to minimise the risk during this time by increasing the frequency of our routine procedures, adhering to our strict illness procedures, and excluding unnecessary visitors to our centres.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Brandan Murphy stated in the press conference alongside the prime minister on Sunday 22nd March 2020, “The risk to children from the Covid-19 Virus is extremely low. There is NO data worldwide to state that children are carriers, and we have not seen any evidence of this”.

Services have implemented the following extra precautions;

  • Continuing to exclude any children who are ill
  • Taking temperatures upon arrival for a health check to see if they are fit to attend
  • Flexible mealtimes – less children sitting at the table
  • Doors open allowing for indoor/outdoor time with 10.25 square meters per child
  • Vulnerable children and staff to seek medical advice to isolate
  • Children living with vulnerable people to seek medical advice to isolate
  • Restricting access to the centre to only necessary personnel
  • Utilising germ-killing anti-bacterial essential oil diffusers
  • Adding hygiene lessons as part of the daily core education including hand washing, coughing
  • Ensure hand sanitiser is more readily available
  • Sanitising ipad's after each sign in
  • etiquette and physical distancing
  • All tours cancelled
  • Visitors restricted
  • Separating children into smaller group sizes
  • Families drop off and pick up at the door, reducing the number of germs introduced into the service
  • Shoes are left outside of the centre door – no shoes or socks worn only inside the service
  • Keeping windows open to ensure adequate airflow

Centres are closing at the moment due to families or staff members testing positive, not children. When this occurs, services contact the health department immediately, and they advise what measures services should take; services are currently closing for 76 hours – 14 days until the health department deem that everyone is tested and fit to return to the service.

Due to the Covid-19 Virus the government has ruled that there is 4 square meters per person and due to regulations child care services go above and beyond the recommended 4 square metre rule, it is a regulation that services provide 10.25 square meters of space per child upon licensing, made up of 3.25 square meters of indoor space and 7 square metres of outdoor space.

We believe children should keep a routine that is as consistent as possible, especially during this unprecedented time.

Small and medium-sized services are in an ideal position to be able to offer a home-like care environment while maintaining these high-quality practices as an essential part of their daily routine.

At Platinum Education, we are a small boutique 28 place service, and we will continue to love and educate the children in our care safely and hygienically as we do each and every day without hesitation until advised otherwise.

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