Safety & Sanitation

Food safety in child care

Children are more susceptible than adults to food poisoning - technically called foodborne illness. Child care providers and preschools are required to follow the food safety guidance provided in the Washington State Food and Beverage Worker’s Manual. For many child cares and preschools, this requirement was first introduced in 2013. Basic food safety rules include:

  • Keep hands and food preparation surfaces clean
  • Eliminate bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods
  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold
  • Protect foods from contamination during storage
  • Thoroughly cook meat, fish, eggs, and poultry

Food Worker Card

All child care providers should obtain a Washington State Food Worker Card.

Guidance Documents

Here are a few guidance documents for child care facilities.

Pets in child care

Pets can have a very positive effect on children. In child care programs, pets can teach even very young children about values such as kindness, responsibility, and caring. Unfortunately, some pets can be a significant source of disease, allergies, and injury in young children. Animal bites can be serious. Petting zoos and animal interactions can be fun experiences for children, but also have many health and safety risks associated with them.

Child care providers with pets on the premises should have a current pet policy and be knowledgeable about the health risks associated with the animal. Parents should be notified whenever pets are present.

Additional Information

The following documents can help you decide if a pet is right for your child care and write your policies. Additional information on health risks from animals or petting zoos can be found on our Animal Bites and Concerns  page.

Hand washing & sanitation

The best way to reduce the spread of germs in child care settings is by using good hand washing practices and washing hands often. This applies to both child care providers and children. For handwashing information and resources, including a copy of the handwashing poster, go to the Handwashing page of this website.

Three Step Process

Cleaning and sanitizing or disinfecting are also very important for preventing the spread of disease in child care environments. When cleaning and sanitizing/disinfecting, use a three step process as follows:

  1. Clean (soap and water) to remove dirt and germs
  2. Rinse (plain water) to remove the soap
  3. Apply sanitizer or disinfectant to kill remaining germs

Helpful Information

Child care providers can contact the Child Care Health Outreach program for advice on choosing an appropriate cleaner, sanitizer, or disinfectant, mixing bleach and water solutions, or which surfaces should be sanitized and which should be disinfected. Other helpful information can be found in the following documents:

Injury Prevention

The curious and adventurous nature of young children helps them learn about their world, but also makes them prone to injuries. Child care providers can take steps to reduce the chance of injuries in their child care environment. Call the Child Care Health Outreach program if you have questions about preventing injury in your child care or if you wish to schedule a personalized on-site consultation.