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Should I keep my child at home?

A child appearing to be unwell can be difficult for a parent to deal with.

This information aims to help you make a decision as to whether your child should be kept away from his or her childminder, pre-school or nursery.

We recognise that it can be difficult to take time off if you are a working parent to look after your child; however, childcare providers have a duty to protect other children in their care from infection.

Ofsted's standard for health states that all childcare providers "promote the good health of children" and that they "take positive steps to prevent the spread of infection".

Parents support is vital if childcare providers are to control the spread of unpleasant illnesses.

Poorly children are often miserable children which can cause additional difficulties for a childcare provider and distress for the child.

Five golden rules

A child must not attend a childminder, pre-school or nursery if they are vomiting or have diarrhoea. They should not be in a childcare setting until 48 hours after diarrhoea and/or vomiting has ceased. Continue to Step 2

A child known to be unwell and with a temperature must not attend their childminder, pre-school or nursery. A child who becomes ill during the day should be collected by their parent or carer.

Continue to Step 3

Colds are infectious. A mild cold will cause little distress; however, a child with a heavy cold or flu who has a temperature should be nursed at home.

Continue to Step 4

Children with open sores, for example, impetigo must not attend a childminder, pre-school or nursery until the lesions are crusted or healed. A child with chicken pox must be kept at home for five days from the onset of a rash.

Continue to Step 5

A child with conjunctivitis may attend a childminder, pre-school or nursery. Good hand hygiene and discouraging close facial contact will prevent the spread of infection.

Other considerations

  • Treatment is recommended only in cases where live lice have definitely been detected
  • Use a recommended lotion or shampoo and conditioner combined with a combing method such as 'bug busting'
  • Ideally treat your child before they attend childcare
  • Check your child's head regularly as continual vigilance can help contain the spread of head lice.
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  • Treatment should be given to the child and all other members of the household
  • Once treatment is given, the child can attend their childminder, pre-school or nursery.
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  • You MUST inform your child's childminder, pre-school or nursery if your child has rubella (German measles) in case he or she has been in contact with anyone in the early stages of pregnancy.
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Caring for sick children is not the role of childcare providers and you should be prepared to collect or arrange for the collection of your child if you are contacted.

  • In the case of an accident the childminder or setting staff should put the needs of the child first and act accordingly
  • You should be asked to sign a consent form that allows a childminder or the setting staff to seek emergency treatment if necessary
  • You should also read and sign their accident/incident book confirming you were given full details of any accident and the action taken
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Last updated: 18 August 2017 | Last reviewed: 18 August 2017