It’s that time of the year again when all eyes are focus on our children, May as we know it to be in Jamaica as“Child’s Month”. So as we look forward to that time it’s imperative that we the team at Jamaica Health Tips Online focus your attention on a very critical topic which is generally taken for granted. This is the health and safety of our children in early childhood institutions. Early Childhood Institution according to the Early Childhood Regulation 2005 means; a place that care for four are more children under theage of six years for more than six hours a day.
These institutions include daycare centres, basic schools, infants’ schools pre-schools and kindergartens.Almost all Jamaican infants attend an early childhood institution in the first years of their lives; hence it’s very important that they are safe and healthy during their stay. Hence here are a few things to take note of when leaving your children at these institutions.
The infrastructure must be secure and sturdy, weather tight to protect infants from rain and sun, adequately lit and ventilated and lastly floors and food contact surfaces (counters) should be repair to facilitate easy cleaning and a smooth finish e.g. tiles.
They should be supplied with water from a reputable source such as the National Water commission. This is to ensure that the water use for drinking is safe and adequate.
The premises should be equipped with garbage receptacles that meets public health standard to ensure that the waste is stored proper stored for collection by the National solid waste agency or other approved agencies. This will prevent fly breeding and other pests and rodents proliferation which may lead to serious health implications.
The physical layout ofthe premises should be of such that children have adequate play space in andout the building. The should always be on the ground floor, away from latchgates and items that may be harmful to them such as pointed edges, chemicalsetc. The premises should consist of a sick bay, changing, feeding and sleeping area and this is based on the number of infants.
Toilet facility must be provided for both staff and children. One toilet facility for every 20 children and one face basin for every 40 children. These should be the height of a wheelchair so children can comfortably access them.
As parents we should provide the child’s immunization card and other records to prove your child’s well being before he or she is accepted into the institution.
Staff and children should wash hands regularly, especially after using the toilet facility and before eating and preparing food.
Children should not be allowed to share toys that can be place in the mouth. Most importantly these toys should be washed and disinfected on a regular basis.
All cribs sheets,pillow slips, beddings and equipment should be washed and disinfected at least once per week.
The facility should be equipped with a fully supplied first aid kit, contact to a health facility andfire extinguishers in case of an emergency.
Most importantly the facility should have sufficient staffing to adequately and comfortably attend to each child.
Children under 1yr – 1 staff to 5 children
Children 1-2 -1staff to 8 children and
Children 3-5 – 1staff to 10 children
Staff should be ingood mental, physical health, sound and good moral ethics with no prove of any criminal records.
Our children are our future; hence we need to protect them today so they will grow to be strong and health leaders of tomorrow. We urge every adult to help a child this child’s month. For more information on ECI you can always visit the Early childhood Commission website.