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Healthy Kids

Dear Debi,
I work with a parent on a fixed income who needs to get her 3-year-old son immunized before I accept him into my program. Are there any free or low-cost programs I can direct her to?
Donna, Los Angeles, CA
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
  • Partner with parents
  • Keep up-to-date info on childrenís health
  • Connect with health care organizations
Expert Advice
Jocelyn Tucker
Jocelyn Tucker
Family child care advocate
The key to healthy kids is forming a partnership with parents and regularly sharing information with each other. A partnership is not only helping with health insurance and keeping records up-to-date, but it is also sharing any health observations or concerns routinely. These observations might be, for example, changes in sleep habits, diet, or new medications. The provider should also offer parents information on different health areasófor example, how washing hands frequently can reduce the spread of disease.

Having information on a childís health is very important. Providers routinely have to know if their kidsí immunizations are up to date, who their primary physician is, do they have insurance, and are they keeping up with their annual physicals.

Providers should stay in contact with the department of health, local clinics, and healthcare centers for more information. The Department of Health has everything youíll ever need to know.

There are various community service organizations that provide health care for no or low-cost to families based on income. The first place a provider or a parent should check for this information is their local Resource and Referral agency.

As a family child care advocate, itís my position that providers need to seek out resources in their community. As part of good community service, most providers keep up with this information, but itís not mandatory.

For low-income families, the government usually has low or no-cost programs. Both parents and providers can check with their local R&R to obtain this information. But itís nice if a provider has this information readily available for their parents. Providers should try to keep a list for parents if they need low-cost or free health services.

Finally, remember that nutrition is very important to a childís health. Providers should encourage parents not to have kids come to school with donuts and a soda for breakfast. The provider should also be aware of cultural and religious differences. Providers need to know some parents may have a wavier for immunizations due to religious or medical reasons.
Child Care provider Comments
Child care provider for 4 years
To be accepted into a licensed family child care, the children have to have up to date immunizations. They have to show me their immunization card and itís required by the state of California that the childís doctor signs a letter stating any health restrictions. I communicate with the parent about doctorís visits and check-ups. Itís written in my contract that the parents have to provide me with immunization updates, and each day I have the parents fill out an overall health survey so I can have an idea of how the child is feeling.

I always refer parents to our Child Care Resource Center (CCRC) if they need information on low cost immunizations, health insurance or a back-up provider. If they have a sick child, I also send them to my local hospital because they have a sick child care program that can take them for the day. If you are a parent and you have to go to work, thatís always a back-up. I know they have those in most communities. For parents who want information on other low-income programs, I always refer them back to CCRC. I also keep a list of different phone numbers in the community and I make it available to the parents. It has numbers for health, dental services and emergency housing.

One of the things Iíve done in the past is host a CPR class at my home for the parents. Each year, about a month or so before I have to renew my CPR, I put up a sign-up sheet for my parents. I find someone to teach the class, and someone else to watch their children. Itís a good opportunity to build trust and I feel good knowing that Iím giving them skills to protect their children and keep them safe. Iíve built a really great relationship with the parents who have participated in this activity over the years, and they seem very grateful to be given the opportunity.
Diane Ferguson
Diane Ferguson
Child care provider for 3 years
Before I take a child into my program, they have to be immunized. I let the parents know about all of my sick policies and tell them that I am the one with the last say-so. If the child is sick during the day, Iíll call them. If I need to administer medication, I let them know I need a doctorís note and the childís name on the prescription.

If parents donít have medical insurance and theyíre not eligible for Medi-Cal, I refer them to a government organization called Healthy Families. I know a lot about Healthy Families because I did a seminar with them. They came to one of my monthly parent meetings.

When I do conferences with my parents, I give out info on Healthy Families and I keep it posted in my child care. Iím a supporter of Healthy Families because they will take kids based on certain income guidelines and they donít have to be a U. S. citizen.
Parent Comments
Mother of one child
I donít give my daughter candy and prefer fruit as a treat instead because she gets a sugar high. So I asked my provider to limit her candy intake. Since mentioning it, my provider is now aware of the fact that I donít want Sikkiim to have a lot of candy and to only give her fruit. Because we had this conversation, I partnered with my provider to keep Sikkiim healthy.

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