Do I Have to Pay for Daycare if My Child Is Sick? (Daycare Sick Policies Explained)

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Daycare is an absolute must for working parents. But with so many children in one place, it’s easy for illnesses to spread quickly.

That’s why daycare centers have strict sick child policies in place to protect the health of all children in their care.

I know, I know. It’s a massive bummer when you child wakes up with crusty eyes or a fever, and you’ve got a busy day ahead of work, errands, or other responsibilities.

So let’s get right into the heart of the matter here:

Do you have to pay for daycare if your child is sick? And can you send your child to daycare if he or she is sick?

Daycare sick policies vary from center to center, but they typically require children to stay home if they have a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or other contagious illnesses (like pink eye). Some centers may also require a doctor’s note before allowing a child to return after an illness. These policies are not only important for the health of the children but also for the staff and other families who use the center.

Typically, parents will still have to pay for daycare that day even when their child is home sick. You’ll usually pay tuition for a block of time (like a week or a month) all at once. However, there are pay-as-you-go daycares available in some areas, and many daycare providers offer “vacation time” or a set number of days where your child can be absent and you won’t have to pay.

It’s essential for parents to understand their daycare’s sick child policy and follow it closely. So what should you be looking for when reading over the policy?

Can I Send My Child to Daycare if He or She is Sick? Do I Have to Pay If My Child Stays Home?

It’s crucial that you keep your child home from daycare if he or she is showing signs of illness.

No matter how inconvenient it is, and believe me, I have been tempted many times!

The key factor here is usually a fever (over 100.4 F in most cases), a persistent cough, or visible signs of infection like rashes or eye goop.

Most daycare centers have strict policies in place to prevent the spread of illness among children and staff. Sending a sick child to daycare can put other children and staff members at risk of getting sick.

(This is why kids start getting sick all the time once they start school.)

Many daycare centers have strict guidelines on when a child should be kept home, so you should make sure you familiarize yourself with the policy.

For example, a child may be required to stay home if he or she has a fever, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Some daycare centers may also require a doctor’s note before allowing a child to return after an illness, or they may require you to wait a certain number of days.

In most cases, you will still have to pay for daycare even if your child is sick.

Generally, you pay tuition at a daycare for a month (or some other block of time) all at once, and it doesn’t matter if you use all of those days or not.

Some daycares offer vacation time. My 2-year-old’s daycare, for example, allows around one week of vacation time for which you won’t be charged tuition.

There’s also the matter of your child’s enrollment spot in the daycare center. If he or she were to be absent for more than a certain amount of time (per the policy), the daycare may give away his spot to another child.

For severe long-term illnesses and hospital stays, you’ll want to reach out to your daycare director or other administrator and try to work out an arrangement that may not be specified under the policy.

(Related: Why don’t daycares list prices online?)

What to look for in a daycare sick child policy

You should make sure you read through the sick policy at your child’s daycare once they’re enrolled.

Keep an eye out for:

Exclusion criteria

A daycare sick child policy should include clear and specific exclusion criteria to help prevent the spread of illnesses among children and staff.

Exclusion criteria just means specific signs of symptoms that mean the child must stay home, and might include:

  • Fever of 100.4°F or higher
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Severe cough or difficulty breathing
  • Contagious diseases such as chickenpox, strep throat, or pink eye

The policy should also specify the minimum amount of time a child must stay home before returning to daycare after exhibiting these symptoms.

Return criteria

In addition to exclusion criteria, a daycare sick child policy should outline clear return criteria that a child must meet before returning to daycare.

These criteria may include:

  • Being fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication
  • No vomiting or diarrhea for at least 24 hours
  • Improvement in symptoms such as cough or runny nose
  • Completion of any necessary treatment, such as antibiotics for strep throat

Our daycare, again, is usually OK with a child with pink eye returning once antibiotic drops have been applied for 24 hours.

Yours may differ, so read carefully!

Communication plan

A daycare sick child policy should also include a clear communication plan for notifying parents and staff of illnesses and outbreaks.

This may include:

  • Designating a staff member to monitor and report illnesses
  • Notifying parents of illnesses and exclusion criteria
  • Posting signs or notices about outbreaks or illnesses
  • Keeping records of illnesses and outbreaks to help identify patterns and potential sources of infection

We’ve received many a notice of excessive cases of stomach bugs, Hand Foot and Mouth syndrome, and more.

Any daycare center worth their salt will keep parents informed about the health of the classroom as a whole.

Wrapping Up

Implementing a sick child policy in a daycare center requires a collaborative effort between parents and daycare providers. Both parties need to work together to ensure that the policy is effective in keeping children healthy and preventing the spread of illness.

One way to promote collaboration is to have an open and honest communication between parents and daycare providers. Parents should be informed about the daycare center’s sick child policy and the steps that they can take to prevent their child from getting sick. They should also be honest and upfront, keeping their kids home when they’re not feeling well!

On the other hand, daycare providers should be transparent about their policies and procedures, and they should keep parents informed about any changes or updates to the policy.

Daycares can be hot beds of illness, viruses, bugs, and infections. That’s just the reality.

When your child has to be home sick, it’s bound to be stressful. But having a good understanding of the sick policy at daycare will relieve a lot of your anxiety on those tough mornings. You’ll know exactly when to keep your child home and when they can safely go back.

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Hope this helps!