All childcare providers are responsible for the welfare of children left in their care. Child and day care operations are regulated by state policies and procedures. This includes standard facilities, as well as family-run, home-based childcare providers. Regulated standards serve to promote optimum health and reduce the safety and security risks to children. The National Childcare Information And Technical Assistance Center defines these guidelines as: "Policies and procedures to protect the health, safety, and well-being of children in non-parental care settings."
Childcare providers must know and implement the required health and safety standards. Caregivers, staff and volunteers who work with and around children, undergo various types of screening. Fingerprinting, criminal background checks and comprehensive health evaluations are conducted. A tuberculosis screening is a mandatory part of the health evaluation. Additional screening involves licensing and certification. Policies and procedures make it necessary for childcare providers to maintain the correct and current credentials. Knowing how to administer first aid and perform rescue breathing is also essential.
Another element that relates to the children's safety is the actual site and location of the facility or home. Rules govern the inside and outside of where the care is provided. They consider things like heaters, crawlspaces, electrical sockets and pool coverings. Size and space of rooms and even proximity to adult oriented establishments all factor into child safety. The National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education provides links to each state and their current childcare provider regulations.
Many health and safety standards relate to disease and germ control. To reduce the spread of swine flu and other serious health concerns, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has established an Adult Immunization Schedule for people over 18 years of age. The caregiver's health evaluation should address their immunisation history. Other related issues have to do with: Food handling and preparation, administering medicine, toileting and diapering, handling garbage and touching bodily fluids. Care providers set the example in safety and sanitation, whether dealing directly with children or the things children touch.
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is a rare disease that is believed to affect less than 200,000 infants in the United States annually. While much is still a mystery about this syndrome, childcare providers should be aware of and implement the procedures that are believed to help reduce the risk of SIDS.
Health and safety regulations that surround the latest findings on SIDS instruct caregivers to:
- Be sure infants are placed on their backs to sleep
- Remove pillows, quilts and soft bedding from crib when infant is sleeping
- Remove stuffed toys from bed when child is sleeping