Agreeing with experts, Philly mom not blaming illness on day care

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    Teachers at the Maternity Care Coalition's Early Head Start prorgram follow a long list of procedures to prevent germ spread at the day care  -- sanitizing diaper-changing tables and wearing gloves to wipe a toddler's nose. (Taunya English/WHYY)

    Teachers at the Maternity Care Coalition's Early Head Start prorgram follow a long list of procedures to prevent germ spread at the day care -- sanitizing diaper-changing tables and wearing gloves to wipe a toddler's nose. (Taunya English/WHYY)

    Kids share more than toys in preschool; germs are passed around, too. But many experts say, “Don’t blame day care.”

    Children who go to group-care centers only get one or two more illnesses a year compared with kids who are cared for at home.

    Philadelphia mom Patti Cruz says her son, Dominic, got his first cold when he was 3 months old, right after he started day care.

    He’s battled a series of sniffles and rashes — including impetigo and hand, foot and mouth disease. Both illnesses are very common among the preschool crowd.

    “Part of the time it probably was day care from being with the other kids. But part of the time, maybe it was because we took him to the zoo, or we took him to Smith Playground or some of the other great places in the city,” Cruz said. “Our conclusion was, he’s a baby and I don’t want to just stay home with him all the time and keep him in a bubble from the rest of the world.”

    “The day care, I think, took all the precautions they could,” Cruz said. “My son was in the babies room, you can’t wear shoes in the babies room. You have to take your shoes off and wear booties to cover your shoes or your socks.”

    “My son ate everything for months, he put everything in his mouth. He licked everything. He licked the floor, so it’s really hard to keep everything clean all the time,” Cruz said.

    “If he had a fever or if he had a runny nose of any sort of color, we would keep him home. Made it hard for me to feel like I could accomplish what I needed to get done at work, just because it became too stressful not knowing if I would be able to make it it in for a big meeting or a big event, because we don’t have a backup besides day care.”

    “Our pediatrician is Dr. [Shareen] Kelly at St. Christopher’s [Hospital for Children],” Cruz said. “She was really reassuring, but she also was very realistic. She told us — she also had kids herself that had gotten sick and it was sort of part of process of being a working parent.”

    Dominic is 2 years old this month. Recently, when Cruz’s job changed, she had to find a new care center, which she says she selected because of its location and convenience.

    “The biggest thing for us when we walked in was how we felt in the place and how we felt the teachers were being with the children,” Cruz said. “That’s more important to me than how often they wash their hands.”

    Taunya English visited a South Philadelphia preschool to see how that center keeps germs in check. Click here for that story.

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