If you’re thinking about starting a business, I have a brilliant idea for you and I highly encourage you to run with it. One thing this country desperately needs are nannies that specifically care for children that are too sick for school.
Employers can be very harsh when it comes to missing work to care for a sick child. It makes sense that an employer would want their employees to be at work as much as possible, but some company policies make it so it would be better for the parent to claim that (s)he is the one that is ill.
One mother was explaining the point system her employer uses. Each employee had five absence points for the year. If they went over their limit, they would have disciplinary action taken against them up to termination. If you were 15 minutes late you lost one quarter point, if you called in sick you lost a full point. However, if you called in needing to care for a sick child, you lost two points. It's these kinds of policies that lead to extra-ordinary challenges I sometimes face as a child care provider.
For example, there is the story about a boy we will call Kyle (for confidentiality). Kyle was one year old and went five days a week to a child care facility. He was loved very much by his family and his teachers. One day his teachers noticed he wasn't quite himself, and after a little while he felt warm.
Kyle had a temperature of 102°F. The poor boy was miserable as his teachers cuddled him waiting for Mom to arrive. She came within a half hour, and was told that according to our policy Kyle could not return until he was fever free for 24 hours unless he had a doctor's note.
He was back the next day with a doctor's note stating that Kyle simply had an ear infection and was not contagious. However, he still had a temperature of 101°F even with Tylenol and was still miserable. The two teachers now had to constantly comfort one very sad child, yet continue caring for seven other children. This is not safe for the other seven children, and it's absolutely heart-breaking to see Kyle suffer.
Another example is much more recent and it starts with another one-year-old. This time it was a girl we'll call Jessica. [All names from here on are changed to protect confidentiality.] Thursday morning Mom brought Jessica in covered in vomit. The poor girl had thrown up in the car after acting strange all morning. Since our illness policy would technically allow Jessica to attend school that day, she stayed under the condition that if she threw up one more time she would have to be sent home.
Jessica did not throw up all day. In fact the only thing she did all day was lie around and watch her friends play. This girl was definitely sick and very likely contagious. But she stayed all day. She had no fever and no other symptoms so Mom was not called and she was able to contaminate the room and her friends.
Sure enough, the next day we were informed that James would be staying home because he starting throwing up the previous night. Right behind James' mom was Jessica and her mom. Mom said that Jessica had thrown up twice overnight. We reminded her that based on our policy (as we understood it) Jessica could not attend school today so Mom should check with management to make sure. Management gave the okay for Jessica to attend school under the same parameters as the previous day.
Like the day before, Jessica developed no further symptoms but was undeniably ill. Within a few hours of everyone arriving for the day, Leah vomited twice and was sent home for her parents to cancel their vacation plans they had for the long weekend. The bug didn't end there.
It was nap-time and the remaining six children were all sleeping very peacefully when Anna suddenly raised her head from her crib mattress, vomited violently, and laid her head back down in the vomit. Obviously, we had to further disturb her nap by cleaning up the mess. She never did get back to sleep.
After throwing up again a half-hour later, Mom and Dad were called to pick her up. During the short wait, she threw up twice more. The final time was in my lap.
As I stood wiping vomit off the crotch of my pants and spraying it with sanitizer, four parents walk in the door. I was terribly embarrassed, but kept a smile on and greeted each parent as I continued to sanitize my nether-regions. Jessica was picked up slightly earlier than normal, and Mom sincerely thanked us for taking care of her daughter.
Finally, the weekend came and all the teachers managed to stay healthy. The following Tuesday when school resumed, all the children were happy and healthy yet again...but their older siblings were sick. Thus the bug continued to spread.
It's still unsure how far it will go, but I don't blame the parents from either of the incidents. Employers can be particularly cruel about parents taking time off to care for their sick children. So if you want to make some money in a business, start a nanny agency that sends nannies to care for children who are too sick to attend school. Good luck finding people to work for you, but if you can, you could make millions. So many parents in the U.S. need this kind of service. Is anyone up for the challenge?