19 Nov A Child Care Provider’s Guide to Managing Head Lice
As a child care provider, it’s important to take every step to protect your facility from head lice. That’s not to say that it can’t happen or won’t happen, but you want to avoid an infestation when possible. Otherwise, you have to deal with frantic parents, absent children, the unnecessary use of pesticides and other disruptions.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep your daycare lice free. Here is a complete guide to managing head lice in your facility.
Establish a Head Lice Policy
The first thing to do is establish a standard for head lice control. This way, you will have something in place to refer to if there is an outbreak. Communicate your policy to your staff and parents so that they, too, will know how to identify lice and nits.
Additionally, decide what protocol you expect parents to take if their child has head lice. The AAP no longer recommends that children stay home from school until they are nit free. Instead, healthy children can return once they have received treatment. Your facility may want to follow the same procedures.
So, what should you include in your head lice control policy? Here are our recommendations.
- When children will be dismissed early from childcare.
- The conditions for when children with head lice can return.
- Educational literature on the prevention, detection and treatment of head lice.
- Importance of screenings and how to do them.
- Risks of using pesticide products, especially when they’re not needed.
- Dates of lice screenings.
If it turns out that one of your children has head lice, you will need to contact the parents right away. According to the AAP, the child can stay in daycare until the end of the day but will need treatment before returning.
If possible, share the parent’s options with them so that they can treat the head lice as quickly and effectively as possible. Chemical treatments (e.g., lindane, malathion) should be avoided, especially in children younger than 2. It’s also recommended to get other children in the household checked.
Inspect Your Facility
To prevent the spread of head lice, a bit of prevention goes a long way. Even though an adult louse will die within 48 hours off the head, take a few minutes to vacuum and wash or bag items that have been used in the past couple of days, such as cots, dress-up clothes and blankets. In the meantime, be sure that children don’t share headgear and that hats are tucked into coat sleeves.
One of the best ways to care for your daycare facility and prevent lice outbreaks is by scheduling lice screenings. For one affordable cost, you can have a professional from My Hair Helpers visit your facility and perform head checks. If we do find lice or nits on a child, we can contact the parents and provide treatment right away. Our head lice products are safe, effective and nontoxic.
Lice happens and it has nothing to do with being dirty or neglectful. However, the more daycare providers communicate proper lice procedures and the importance of lice screenings, the more everyone can work together to prevent outbreaks and the overuse of pesticides.