Mom I Feel Sick!

Shift work, unusual hours and casual employment are just some of the special needs and circumstances by which the typical child care arrangement falls short of being adequate for many parents.

But it is finding care for a mildly ill child that causes parents the most grief.

Naturally parents prefer to be home when their child is seriously ill, after all no one can replace Mom or Dad on those days. The challenge arises when the child is feeling better but is still too ill to attend child care or school.


According to the Child Care Action Campaign, in their CCAC Information Guide 21, Temporary Care for the Mildly Ill Sick Child, many experts now believe that children with colds and other simple respiratory illnesses need not be excluded from their regular child care programs. "In fact," CCAC notes, " studies show no correlation between excluding children with mild respiratory infections and preventing the spread of the illness. With most illnesses, children are contagious for at least three to five days before they develop any signs or symptoms."

A child with a fever, diarrhea, vomiting, or a contagious disease such as chicken pox or measles (common scenarios for parents) should be kept home to prevent the spread of the illness. If you are not prepared though, those all-be-it simple words, "Mom, I feel sick," can actually make you feel sick. What do you do?

Relative Care

Most parents prefer to have a family member such as an aunt or grandparent look after their child when he or she is ill. Pediatricians recommend this type of care for sick children. A loving face and familiar surroundings are extremely comforting.
Care In Your Home

If relative care is not an option, home care or homemaker services offer in-home emergency care for mildly ill children. You can locate these services in the Yellow Pages of your phone book under Homemaker Services.

Shop around ahead of time for the best price and caregiver qualifications. You'll want to be sure the caregivers have training in CPR, first aid, illness assessment, child development, as well as the preparation of nutritious meals and snacks, administering of medication, providing activities geared to the child's age and illness, and maintaining a safe and healthy environment.
Care In A Family Daycare Home

Consult your local resource and referral agency to find out if there are any family daycare providers in your area who provide care for mildly ill children. Screen the caregiver, and, if time allows (do your best to make it), visit with the caregiver a few times so that you and your child are familiar with her and the surroundings.

Local Resource and Referral Agencies

Your local child care resource and referral agency or Social Services office can also tell you if any other programs for mildly ill children exist in your community. For example, there may be specialized medical facilities, either a hospital, daycare centre for mildly ill children, or a medical clinic who can accommodate your child. Ask if there are any family dayhome associations who can arrange to have a caregiver come to your home.

Obviously the downside to such arrangements is the lack of caregiver continuity, or the nervousness one feels leaving a sick child in the hands of a stranger, even if it is just for one or two days. Having your backup care arrangements firmly in place, doing your homework by investigating the available agencies and caregivers will give you some peace of mind - if there is any solace to be found in such a situation