Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Childcare centres: Health guidelines in place

THE health and well-being of children in our childcare centres are of paramount concern to us ("Childcare centres: Should sick kids be allowed in?" by Ms Helen Chong Xu Rong; March 1).

We have stringent requirements in place for health and hygiene matters to protect the children.

Childcare centres are required to conduct regular temperature checks and health screenings of the children throughout the day.

For a child with suspected symptoms of an infectious disease, his parents will be notified immediately to take him home. In the meantime, the sick child will be segregated from the others by being made to rest in a sick bay.

For children recovering from illnesses, they should be certified by a doctor to be medically fit before returning to the childcare programme.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) conducts regular visits to childcare centres and works with them to ensure that they maintain high health and hygiene standards at all times. The ministry will investigate and take appropriate action against errant centres.

We also advise parents to exercise social responsibility and avoid taking sick children to public or crowded places, and keep them away from childcare centres until they have fully recovered.

With the close cooperation of both centre operators and parents, we can create a safe and healthy environment for our children in the centres.

We thank Ms Chong for her feedback, and welcome feedback from other concerned parents.

Melvyn Ong
Senior Director
Child Care Division
Ministry of Social and Family Development
ST Forum, 13 Mar 2013

Should sick kids be allowed in?

MY HUSBAND and I heard from our friends that children sent to childcare centres tend to fall ill frequently, at least in the initial months.

As first-time parents, we are concerned and anxious about sending our daughter to a childcare centre.

We visited three centres and inquired about their guidelines on admitting children who are unwell.

All three centres said they would admit a sick child as long as he does not run a fever higher than 38 deg C. The child would be admitted even if he were having a runny nose or cough, or on medication such as antibiotics.

The centres said they were running a business; if they adhered to the Government's "grey" guidelines and barred a sick child from class, working parents would be upset. They would then remove their children from the centres and put them in more "tolerant" centres.

We were appalled to hear this. Wouldn't everyone benefit if parents and centres practised social responsibility by not allowing a sick child into the class, where he might spread the illness to other children?

Aren't parents granted childcare leave to look after their sick children?

I hope to hear from the relevant authorities on the health guidelines for childcare centres.

Helen Chong Xu Rong (Ms)
ST Forum, 1 Mar 2013

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