Health Capsules

ECELS offers brief articles to insert into parent and staff newsletters, post on bulletin boards or otherwise share information on health and safety topics. Whenever ECELS publishes a new Health Capsule, ECELS sends an E-Mail Alert from ECELS to everyone who signed up on the ECELS home page for these alerts. You may reproduce these brief articles as long as the wording of sentences is not changed, and ECELS is indicated as the source.

The EPA has a Safer Choice label program available at www2.epa.gov/saferchoice This label will help consumers find safer cleaning products. Manufacturers can use the new label only if the EPA Scientists determine that every ingredient in the product is safe for humans and pets, meets environmental standards, and cleans well. Look for the label when purchasing products for your early care and education program.  Also, you can search online for products that meet the Safer Choice Standard at http://www2.epa.gov/saferchoice/products Reviewed and reaffirmed 7/2021

Simple steps can prevent harm when caring for active and curious young children. Exposure of children to toxic products, such as cleaning supplies, is easily preventable. Unfortunately, cleaning products remain a common source of poisoning for young children. Cleaning products are a necessary tool to maintain a clean and healthy child care environment. Improper handling and storage of cleaning supplies is a dangerous and unnecessary regulatory violation.

Colds, coughs and runny noses are more common in the winter than in any other season. Poor circulation of air, dry heated air and crowded indoor spaces make it easier to share germs. Children in their first couple of years of child care or school have one or two more colds than children their age who receive care only at home and who have no siblings to bring infection home. After three years of child care, children in child care have fewer colds than those who have not had the opportunity to build their immunity in group care.

Use the following to share facts, credible information and updates from the Pennsylvania Department of Health Website

Human coronaviruses are a family of viruses that commonly cause mild to moderate illness like the common cold.  A new human coronavirus, called the 2019 Novel Coronavirus was discovered in Wuhan City, China in December 2019.  Symptoms of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Use these additional credentialed sources to share information and updates with families and staff:

Stay vigilant about infection control practices in your program to reduce spread of all common illnesses. Implement the daily health check recommended in Caring for Our Children Standard 3.1.1.1. Reviewed and reaffirmed 7/2021

Masking/FACE COVERINGS Resources for EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION (ECE) Providers

(From Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL),  American Academy of Pediatrics HealthyChildren.org, and more)

Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL)
COVID-19 Best Practices for Early Childhood Education (ECE) https://www.pakeys.org/covid-19/
This page will help keep early childhood education (ECE) professionals informed on best practices for keeping children, staff and families safe and healthy as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Face Coverings:
The Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) recognizes helping young children to be comfortable wearing face masks and to keep face masks on may be challenging. It is important to help children feel more secure wearing a face mask when around other children and adults.

The CDC COVID resource pages are recommended as the primary source of up-to-date and accurate information. As recommendations regarding the mitigation of COVID-19 continue to evolve, child care providers are urged to stay up-to-date on the most recent CDC Guidance for Operating Child Care.
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/child-care-guidance.html

Best Practices and Resources for Child Care Providers https://www.pakeys.org/covid-19/
Most children are used to wearing and seeing people in masks. Predictable and consistent routines around mask wearing can help young children feel comfortable and know what to expect. Treat mask wearing as an emerging skill. Support children in learning to wear a mask consistently to be healthy and safe by showing children how to wear their mask so it fits securely over their mouth and nose. Give positive feedback to children for their efforts and keep it playful!

Resources for Use with Children

American Academy of Pediatrics HealthyChildren.org
• Mask Mythbusters: 5 Common Misconceptions about Kids & Cloth Face Coverings
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics HealthyChildren.org
https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/COVID-19/Pages/Mask-Mythbusters.aspx

• Face Masks for children during COVID-19
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics HealthyChildren.org
https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/COVID-19/Pages/Cloth-Face-Coverings-for-Children-During-COVID-19.aspx

Other
Coronavirus (COVID-19): How Wearing a Mask Helps Protect Against Infection (video)
Source: Nemours KidsHealth.org https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/coronavirus-mask-video.html

• Wearing a Mask Social Story
Source: Autism Services, Education, Resources and Training Collaborative (ASSERT)
http://paautism.org/resource/wearing-mask-social-story/

• Masks Toolkit
Source: University of Rochester Medical Center
https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/strong-center-developmental-disabilities/resources/masks-toolkit.aspx

Additional Parent Resources
• Tips for quarantined parents in the times of COVID-19
Source: American Psychological Association http://www.apa.org/topics/covid-19/quarantine-parents-tips

 Updated 9/2021

A current poster with guidelines for CPR, including choking and first aid for other emergency conditions is available from the American Academy of Pediatrics bookstore. The guidelines say give Compressions first, then check the Airway, and then support Breathing with mouth to nose and mouth or mouth-to-mouth breaths (C-A-B). The C-A-B sequence applies to adults, children and infants. It does not apply to newborns. The AAP "3-in-1 First Aid/Choking/CPR" poster gives these instructions and gives brief instructions for what to do for common injuries too. Visit the AAP Bookstore to order copies of the new poster.  Reviewed 6/2021.

Caring for a child with diabetes can be a challenge. Families and early care and education staff need to know what to do. Diabetes affects 7% of the population. About one in 500 children has diabetes. Children with diabetes do not make enough insulin. The body needs insulin to use sugar in food for energy and growth. Insulin is a hormone that must be produced naturally by cells in the pancreas or be given as a medicine at proper times and in the right amounts.

Drinking water should be available indoors and outdoors all day. Milk is a fluid food. Milk should be served at meals or snacks where it is planned as part of the recommended intake for the child. Having ready access to drinking water is especially important on hot days except for infants. Infants who receive human milk or formula should receive extra human milk or formula, not water. Children should learn to drink water from a cup or, without mouthing the fixture, drink from a fountain as they can master these skills. Offer water as often as once an hour. No child should be allowed to have water by sucking continuously on a bottle or Sippy cup as it may interfere with proper nutrition. It is best to have children brush their teeth after at least one feeding. When children who have teeth eat and do not brush their teeth afterward, they should have a drink of water to rinse the food from their teeth.

More resources about water and other drinks for children: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/Choose-Water-for-Healthy-Hydration.aspx 

Reviewed and reaffirmed 6/2021

Children learn through meaningful relationships. Positive interaction with consistent adults is essential for early brain development. Verbal and nonverbal communication during routine care is a good approach. Teachers can show families what to do. Speak in soft, encouraging, and positive ways to children. Encourage being respectful and treating children as you would like to be treated.

Visit the Early Learning GPS (Guiding Parents Smoothly) website. Pennsylvania’s Promise for Children campaign developed it. The GPS offers information for parents of young children about helping their children learn and grow.

Resources to support Children with Special Health Care Needs, Care Plans, Process to Support Enrollment of a Child with Special Needs, Asthma Action Plan, Food Allergy, Epilepsy support. See below:

Plan to stay safe and healthy during a disaster. Every early care and education program should have a detailed plan for a disaster. Plans should include what to do about food, water, supplies, and documentation. Arrangements for evacuation, including transportation are essential. Sample plans are available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Model Child Care Health Policies, 5th edition, Chapter 13, has fill-in-the-blank (form-field) policies for emergencies and disasters. The Early Childhood Education Linkage System (ECELS) offers an Emergency Plan Checklist and Emergency Planning Self - Learning Module for 2 hours of professional development credit.

Plan for every child’s needs prior to the first day of care. The program should collect many details before the child is enrolled.
Be sure to collect specific medical information to plan for the child’s care. Ask about any health conditions that the child has had in the past and has now. Has the child had:
• medical care for a health problem?
• allergic reactions to any foods, pollens or other substances?
• wheezing (asthma)?
• a need to take medication more than once or twice in the past year?
These general questions may reveal special needs for accommodation in the program.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Choose My Plate program has a great poster/fact sheet. It shows the sequence and usual ages when 2-5 year old children learn specific healthy eating habits.  The one-page PDF has eye-catching graphics. Use it tool to help families and teachers work together on developmentally-appropriate eating skills for children.  Download this tool at https://myplate-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/2020-12/behavioral-milestones%202-5%20yo.pdf.
Updated 7/2021

Early educators and families need to follow oral health recommendations related to use of fluoride for children. Experts no longer recommend that children take fluoride tablets and liquid supplements. Instead, children should brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride-containing toothpaste. The amount of toothpaste should be appropriate for the child's age. Infants use a smear or rice grain amount of toothpaste. Children 2-5 years of age use a pea-sized amount. From then on, a small ribbon is appropriate. By 12 months of age, or 6 months after the first tooth appears, children should visit a pediatric or child-friendly dentist. Thereafter, children should visit a dentist every 6 months. The dentist may apply fluoride varnish to their teeth at periodic visits. Medicaid and some private health insurance will pay for these preventive dental services. The child's pediatrician may be able to temporarily provide these services to healthy children up to age 5 if dental services are not available in the community. Reviewed and reaffirmed 7/2021