Paid Sick Time, Child Care Providers, and Flu Season

In preparation for this year’s flu season, health organizations have been exceptionally vocal about prevention, symptoms, and care for the seasonal and H1N1 flu (see our earlier blog post with tips and resources for early education programs). These same organizations have also informed the public that the best way to prevent the spread of the flu is to stay home from work, school, child care, or other public places if you are sick. The CDC recommends staying at home until 24 hours after your fever is gone. But what if your job security depends on coming into work everyday, no matter what? What if your job doesn’t offer paid sick time and your child gets sick? These are the types of questions that the National Partnership for Women and Families address regularly on their blog. In a recent entry, staffer Karen Pesapane discussed the lack of paid sick days for professionals in the child care industry. In it she wrote:

“I know the child care industry does not typically provide workers with paid sick days. Case in point, my mother recently retired after 25 years of teaching child care in Connecticut. She told me recently how relieved she is that she retired when she did, because she never had any sick days. She shudders to think how any teachers in the same situation this flu season will not be able to follow the CDC’s advise and stay home when they are sick.”

Recent proposed federal legislation addresses the difficult situation many individuals face when deciding between caring for themselves (or a family member) and getting paid or maintaining employment. The Healthy Families Act (H.R.2460/S.1152) was introduced in May by Representative Rosa DeLauro (CT) and the late Senator Edward Kennedy (MA). The bill would allow certain employees to earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick time for each 30 hours of work that they complete-up to a minimum of 56 hours per year. Only employers who employ 15 or more individuals each working day for 20+ work weeks a year are required to follow the terms of the bill. Wisconsin cosponsors of the bill include Representatives Moore and Baldwin, and Senator Feingold.

Flu.Gov Webinar Targeted at Child Care Providers and Parents

In preparation for flu season this year, the US Department of Health and Human Services has hosted several online webinars for targeted groups of people. The entire “Know What to Do About the Flu” series can be found here. The most recent webinar- displayed above- was directed towards parents and child care providers. It offers advice, tips, and responses to viewers.

Preparing for Flu Season

As the flu season approaches, schools and early education programs must take a closer look at their illness policies, procedures, and preventative measures. Several national organizations have created websites and toolkits with information and suggestions to assist educators in creating action plans. Some of these resources include:

1. A webpage from the National Parent Teacher Association. This site includes tip sheets for parents on how to talk to their children about the flu and flu prevention.

2. The US Department of Health and Human Services led in the creation of the website This site includes prevention tips, signs/symptoms, frequently asked questions, and special sections on school planning and early education program prevention.

3. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a seasonal flu informational section for schools and childcare providers. This site offers flu facts, prevention tips, and advice for providers of children under the age of 6 months of age.

4. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has a section of their website devoted to seasonal flu. Included are tips and information on preparing for the flu in a school or childcare facility.