Keeping caregivers up-to-date on health and safety information available to them can make the job easier as well as increase the level of care for children. All childcare staff and volunteers should receive pediatric first aid training that includes rescue breathing and first aid for choking. There are several training programs readily available to childcare programs through the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, and the National Safety Council for First Aid Training.
Instruction for childcare staff and volunteers should include information on:
- Eye injuries
- Loss of consciousness
- Electric shock
- Allergic reactions
- Head injuries
- Other injuries including bites-including human, animals and insects
- Dental emergencies
- Convulsions or non-convulsive seizures
- Injuries to the musculoskeletal system such as fractures and sprains
If your center has a swimming pool or wading pool, caregivers should be certified in infant and child CPR. Certification should take place on an annual basis by an instructor in water safety and CPR. Keep written verification of the CPR and lifesaving certifications, water safety and emergency procedures with your center's policies and procedures manual or handbook.
A health consultant from the community can provide training for staff and suggest local resources for the caregivers and parents as well. The health consultant should be a physician, certified pediatric or family nurse practitioner, or registered nurse with pediatric or out-of-home childcare experience. Your consultant should have information on childcare settings, licensing requirements, and resources available to your center and parents.
Consider inviting the health consultant into the center on a regular basis. Monthly visits are advised for programs responsible for children under the ages of two. For children older than two, quarterly visits are appropriate. This recommendation comes from Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards Guidelines For Out-of-Home Child Care Programs.
Training sessions from your center's health consultant, the local health department, or organizations such as the Red Cross may include videos, hands-on activities, and printed materials.
After the initial training, regular updates and refresher courses will help staff maintain current information and skills. For periodic refresher training sessions during regular staff meetings, consider using Healthy Childcare. Each issue includes approximately one hour of "training" for caregivers.
Health and safety training is an important part of the on-going training of the childcare staff. Current and factual information for caregivers can be both helpful and a lifesaver!