Child care health and safety during COVID-19
Table of Contents
A screening process allows you to get to know potential caregivers, their background and their fit for your family. Screening can include more than criminal background checks: consider requesting written statements of interest, a resume, interviews, and reference checks.
Your screening methods should aim to assess the following three characteristics:
- Motivation: why does this person want to care for your child/children? Screen out candidates who don’t demonstrate interest in caregiving.
- Preparation: what skills does this person bring? Look for prior education about or experience in caregiving, as well as specific skills (like CPR training) you deem important.
- Attitude: what does this person think about children, in general, and their role in caring for them? Screen out people who exhibit a judgmental, dismissive or otherwise negative attitude towards young people and those who do not demonstrate a commitment to the social, emotional and physical safety of children and their families.
Most youth-focused programs and organizations, including those operating out of the University of Washington, require employees and volunteers to undergo a criminal history background screening before working with minors. Consider asking potential caregivers to self-disclose any prior criminal history and/or to undergo a screening.
Youth programs at the University conduct the following two-step process:
- A Washington Access to Criminal History (WATCH) check for convictions in Washington State is conducted through the Washington State Patrol ($11 per screening).
- A-Check Global completes a comprehensive national and international search based on the person’s prior residences (average cost $20 per screening). This includes a search of the National Sex Offenders Registry, which is available online (free).
Cultivating safe caregiving environments
- Set up caregiving to be as transparent as possible. Ask caregivers to use areas where they are easily observable by others, and/or to be easily reachable by phone or text.
- Clarify your desired communication method and schedule with the caregiver. As your schedule allows, check in with the caregiver during their shift.
- Determine nearby outdoor locations and walking routes for the caregiver to take kids, and any other expectations you have regarding safe transport and time spent offsite.
Health recommendations for child care during COVID-19
View a recording of Your child’s well-being during COVID-19, a webinar hosted by The Whole U on September 15, 2020.
This guide to forming pandemic pods was created by a team of parents working in public health, including UW experts, to help parents who want to share child care and educational resources.
Parents who send their children to group child care may have questions about how centers are addressing health and safety during COVID-19. The Washington Department of Health and local public health agencies, including Public Health – Seattle & King County, have provided child care guidelines for keeping children and employees safe.
Child Care Aware has developed a short checklist of information about health and safety measures child care programs may take curing COVID-19 that encourages parents to talk with providers about how they are implementing recommendations like these:
- Drop-off and pick-up procedures to enforce social distancing.
- Daily health screenings for children and center employees.
- Decreasing group sizes and practices to reduce or eliminate interactions between groups/classrooms.
- Increasing activities, including increased outdoor time, to help with social distancing.
- Removing play items that can’t be disinfected easily.
- Changing meal and snack routines to help with social distancing.
- Personal hygiene and center cleaning practices.
- Procedures if someone in the child care is exposed to COVID-19, has COVID-19 symptoms or tests positive for the virus.
Public health guidance may change as experts learn more about COVID-19 and when Washington’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy proclamation expires. This site will maintain links to the most recent information from public health authorities to help employee parents stay up-to-date and talk with their child care provider about health and safety.
Safety in online environments
Youth activities build community and friendships that last a lifetime. Youth program providers understand this and are working hard to design meaningful and fun experiences in a remote environment. The following tips can help your family prepare for a memorable, engaging experience that is physically distanced. Learn about safety in virtual program environments by consulting the following resources
- Common Sense Media supports parents in learning about media, privacy and internet safety. Check out their list of questions to ask your kid’s program about privacy and safety.
- NetSmartz, a program of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, has published a convenient parent reference, Protecting your kids online 2.0.