Addressing Allergies for Children in Your Care
By: Alex Smith
Allergies have increased steadily over the last 50 years, and this increase affects your church, particularly your daycare. Eavesdrop on a typical conversation among a group of parents, and the issue of allergies will likely come up. Some interesting allergy statistics are:
• About 6% of children aged zero to two years have a food allergy
Statistically, there's a good chance you will encounter a child under your care with a food or other allergy of some sort (bees, for example). Utilizing an efficient and accurate method to be aware of and communicate allergy and medical information between parents and those caring for their children is vitally important. Also important is how to respond in the event of an allergic or medical emergency.
Since allergies are an increased concern, here are three key reasons to consider improving your organization's allergy alert, communication, and response systems:
1. Child Safety
There are some key elements to consider no matter what communication system you utilize. Make it easy for parents to quickly and easily provide the most current information regarding their child's allergy and medical information. Ideally, use a system that allows parents to update this information themselves.
Another important characteristic to look for is a system that allows volunteers to easily access allergy and medical information. The ability to quickly contact the child's guardian, should an emergency occur, is another helpful feature. For example, some check-in systems allow you to send a text message to a parent directly from the check-in system.
In addition to communicating with parents about allergy information, consider implementing other measures to keep children safe. Once the communication system is established, create response plans regarding how you and your team will react should an emergency occur. Familiarize yourself with common allergens and how to respond should a child react to that allergen. For example, learn how to treat someone who allergically reacts to a peanut. Minimize allergen exposure at your facility. For example, check ingredient labels for nuts before serving a snack.
Additionally, train volunteers/employees to respond appropriately to medical emergencies. Keep a first aid kit and medical supplies on hand and alert your staff where they are. Periodically practice responding to emergency situations. Go a step further and seek out emergency responders to help create response plans and provide additional training.
2. Parent Peace of Mind
The simplicity of a parent knowing they've communicated their child's allergy, that you are prepared should an issue arise, and that you can easily contact them should you need to, brings peace of mind. Creating an effective medical communication and response system allows parents to focus on and enjoy their own journey, activity, or growth while you care for their child.
3. Decreased Liability
Should an incident occur, document it. Keep a folder with reported allergy/medical incidents. Take pictures, if appropriate, and include these in the file. Additionally, give parents a note or verbally communicate with them about any incident and how you responded (including medications administered). Such steps decrease liability even further while effectively caring for those you serve.
Implementing a plan to address children's allergy issues is essential. Part of successfully planning to keep the children in your care safe includes having accurate information, using that information effectively, and utilizing a system to easily communicate with parents. Implementing such systems can be a great asset to you, your volunteers/employees, and the children in your care.
Alex Smith is CEO of KidCheck, secure children's check-in solutions, www.kidcheck.com.