Infection Control Procedures for Childcare Centers

Any environments where there are children are prime areas for the spread of infections. Children usually have a difficult time covering their mouths when coughing or sneezing and seldom have the ability to or remember to wash their hands as often as they should. Covering mouths when coughing or sneezing and washing hands before eating and when they are soiled are all important tasks for preventing the spread of infections.

Soap and water should be used to wash hands of workers as well as the children when hands are soiled. Alcohol-based hand rubs can be used when soap and water is not available or for trips away from the facility. Alcohol-based hand rubs should not be used on the sensitive skin of infants.

These hand rubs should only be used with children when under adult supervision. Workers should wash hands between contact with infants and older children, before meals and feedings, and after wiping a child’s nose or mouth, after diaper changes, and after assisting a child to go to the bathroom.

The Happy Birthday Rule

Workers must wash the hands of infants and children who need assistance when their hands become soiled and before mealtimes or feedings. Hands should be washed for a minimum of 15 to 20 seconds (long enough for a child to sing “Happy Birthday” song twice).

Sink locations should always have ample supply of paper towels, soap, toilet paper and hand dryers.

If sinks are not available in the child care room or diaper changing room than there should be alcohol-based hand rubs available in these areas.

Clean all surfaces and toys with bleach-based cleaners daily and when visibly soiled.

Use an EPA-registered household disinfectant labeled for activity against bacteria and viruses. Follow instructions for use and for storage. Always keep all cleaning supplies out of the reach of children.

Give an Infection Control Presentation

Remind both children and workers to cover mouths and noses when sneezing or coughing with a tissue and also to wash their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based rub as soon as possible afterwards.

It is important that all workers observe children for any signs of illness. Signs include: fever of 100 degrees F under the arm or 101 degrees F orally, or 102 degrees F rectally, chills, cough, sore throat, headache, or muscle aches. If possible contact the parent or guardian and have the child taken out of the childcare center.

Advise the parent to take the child to the doctor. Encourage parents to keep sick kids and infants home until they are without fever for 24 hours. Encourage childcare workers to stay home when they are sick too.

Contact should be made with the local health department for the latest information concerning infection control and to report any increases in infectious diseases experienced at the childcare center.