Spring 2014 Health Link Online

HealthLink Online

Uniting Children, Parents, Caregivers, and Health Professionals

Spring brings increased opportunity for outside play. It is a good time to check outdoor active play areas. Check and fix indoor active play areas too. The design and maintenance of large muscle play areas should provide risk-taking opportunities that are not likely to cause serious harm.  The most common and most severe injuries in child care occur during active play.   

Outdoor areas can be multi-purpose. They can  accommodate activities that build a variety of skills: small muscle movement, literacy, numeracy, science and appreciation of nature. They should be a place for daily moderate to vigorous physical activity. For safety, be sure to divide different types of activities to maintain safe distances between them. As much as possible, design safety into the active play area rather than rely on supervision.  Then concentrate supervision in active play areas where risk-taking is likely or encouraged.

Instead of expensive climbing equipment that requires high levels of maintenance and supervision, you can make a low cost climber by using a hill of sand or grass over dirt. A hill challenges children to use a variety of climbing skills and gross motor experiences.  Indoors or outdoors, give children tunnels, low level obstacle courses, and surfaces to practice walking in a straight line. A big cardboard appliance box with all sharp edges removed makes a no cost tunnel.  Use plastic hoops and ribbons in patterns or chalk on a sidewalk for an obstacle course or a board on the ground to practice balance.

Practicing oral hygiene in child care settings teaches a lifetime habit. Brushing teeth as part of the daily curriculum makes up for any lack of adequacy of oral hygiene in children’s home settings.

Tooth brushing removes some of the plaque on children’s teeth. Plaque holds harmful bacteria against the teeth.
Be sure to do it right! Supervise tooth brushing. You can do it as a group activity.

Prepare for each child a small amount of fluoride toothpaste on a brush or the edge of a cup. Use a pea sized amount of toothpaste for children over 2 years. Use a smear for younger children. Wearing disposable gloves, the teacher/caregiver should assist one child to demonstrate how to brush all quarters of the mouth while the other children follow along.

Children who want to spit can spit into a cup. Rinsing and spitting are not necessary. The small amount of toothpaste is not harmful if a child swallows it.

Be sure that the children do not share toothbrushes. Identify each child’s toothbrush by color of the brush or a colored rubber band on the handle, and by the child’s name. After tooth brushing, rinse the brushes with tap water and store them with the brush head up, touching nothing and open to the air to dry. You can buy commercial toothbrush storage racks or simply store each brush in a cup with the child’s name on it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends against soaking toothbrushes in mouthwash or disinfectant, washing them in a dishwasher or using other germ-killing devices. Such measures may damage the bristles.

Have you ever taken the Pediatric First Aid for Caregivers and Teachers (PedFACTs) workshop? The 2nd edition course content has excellent updated information provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP.) The PedFACTs course meets PA Facility Licensing Regulations and Keystone STARS requirements. In addition to updated content, the procedures for using PedFACTs have changed. You can no longer use the PedFACTs, 1st Edition content and procedures to take the course.

You can still take a 4-hour in-person PedFACTs workshop course. Now, you have a new option. You can take a “hybrid” course with two components. The first is entirely online. It consists of three self-directed modules and a final exam. The second component is a 2-hour in-person session. You can use either option for your first PedFACTs course, or to renew any previous pediatric first aid certification. Successful completion of the online component generates a Final Examination Certificate. Both the onsite and hybrid courses include an instructor-led hands-on station to practice CPR and management of choking on manikins.

The procedures for any PedFACTs course are:

Register at the PedFACTs website: www.pedfactsonline.com. This is a new step. Each person must register. On the registration pages, select a course by location or instructor. Choose the type of course as either onsite or “hybrid”. If more than one person is taking the course at the same time and same place, be sure to select the same instructor for everyone. After the registration is complete on the PedFACTs website, the instructor will send an e-mail to the registrant’s e-mail address to confirm the registration and give additional instructions.

Do you have health and safety questions? Speak to a nurse by calling the ECELS technical assistance line. ECELS is the Early Childhood Education Linkage System-Healthy Child Care Pennsylvania. ECELS serves professionals whose work includes keeping children healthy in early education and child care programs.

For more than 25 years, ECELS has linked health experts with early education and child care professionals to promote adoption of best practices. ECELS is a nationally recognized program of the PA Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Does your child care program have a health consultant? ECELS can help you connect with a health professional to be an ongoing source of health and safety advice. Use the ECELS website at www.ecels-healthychildcarepa.org. Contact ECELS by e-mail or phone: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 484-446-3003 or in PA 800-243-2357.

On July 1, 2014, the new PA Keys to Quality Professional Development Registry will be online. It will take the place of the PD Calendar. The new Core Knowledge Competencies, Self-Assessment and Professional Development Plan will be online too. These will replace the Core Body of Knowledge & Professional Development Record. These are parts of a new Learning Management System, a “LMS.”

Log in and become a registered user at www.pakeys.org. If you work in an early childhood or school-age program, you will be able to build a profile of your education, training and employment on the website.

You will be able to use the LMS to search and register for relevant courses. Search by Knowledge Areas related to your Professional Development Plan. While paper versions will still be available, you can save time by entering and updating these documents online.