Assuring Health Care Plans for Children in Childcare are Complete, Clear, and Comprehensible

Have you ever wondered why you are asked to complete specific health forms or care plans for child care? Or have you completed a form then been told by the parent that their “child care provider says they need additional information in order for their child to attend the program”? The Child Care Health programs from Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) and the Snohomish County Health Department have brought to our attention that many Care Plan templates used by the pediatric provider community are geared for use in K-12 schools, not child care/early learning programs, and most are not compliant with Washington state’s Administrative Codes (WACs) that child care/early learning programs are required to follow.

Stark contrasts exist between K-12 settings and child care/early learning programs. It is important to keep the following differences in mind when completing care plans and health forms for children attending child are/early learning programs:

  • The WACs applicable to child cares/early learning programs are different from those for K-12 schools. Many health care plans are written for use in a K-12 setting and do not satisfy the individual care plan (WAC 300-110-0300) and medication (WAC 300-110-0215) requirements for early learning programs. This puts child care/early learning programs at risk of regulatory noncompliance with state licensing.
  • Child care/early learning programs do not have nurses on site to implement health care plans. Parents/guardians must have a clear understanding of the plan because they are responsible for training child care staff on its implementation, including all medical procedures and medication administration.
  • Many child care program owners/directors are unable to accept children with special medical needs because they don’t understand the plan of care. Child care providers don’t possess the training and medical background to make clinical judgments and assessments. Because of this, they need clear and concise instructions on how to manage the condition daily and in an emergency, for rapid implementation.
  • The majority of child care providers are BIPOC, and English is often their second language. This underscores the importance of care plans needing to be brief and written in plain language (preferably 6th grade reading level or lower).

Please try to accommodate parents’/guardians’ requests related to health care forms so that child care/early learning programs have the information they need to safely care for children with health conditions. If you are interested in viewing and/or using PHSKC’s Child Care Health Program health forms, please visit their website.

Your support is essential in assuring children attending child care and early learning programs remain safe and healthy while in care. Thank you.