Child Care Center Rules on Lice and Nits

The Department of Early Learning (DEL) agreed to review a rule that requires child care centers to exclude children and employees who have lice and/or nits following a public petition asking DEL to remove subsection (2)(e) from WAC 170-295-3030. This would require DEL to amend the current rule. We asked for public input on this rule before we decided how to proceed with the request to change the rule.

The rule, Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 170-295-3030(2), says:

WAC 170-295-3030 When is a child or staff member too ill to be at child care?
    “ …(2) [The licensee] must exclude children and staff with the following symptoms from care:
     (a) Diarrhea (three or more watery stools or one bloody stool within twenty-four hours);
     (b) Vomiting (two or more times within twenty-four hours);
     (c) Open or oozing sores, unless properly covered with cloths or with bandages;
     (d) For suspected communicable skin infection such as impetigo, pinkeye, and scabies: The child may return twenty-four hours after starting antibiotic treatment;
     (e) Lice or nits; …”

The rule applies only to DEL-licensed child care centers and school-age center programs.  New family home child care rules (WAC 170-296A-3325, exclusion of ill persons) do not require the provider to exclude children, staff or the provider’s family members who have lice or nits.

What are others saying about excluding children or others with lice and nits?

Learn more about head lice and nits from the Washington State Department of Health.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, Caring for Our Children and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that head lice or nits do not spread disease, and that a child who arrives at school or child care with lice or nits doesn’t need to be sent home right away or be separated from others.  These sources suggest sending home a note saying the child can return to school or child care after getting lice and nit removal treatment.

However, the National Pediculosis Association says that children who have live lice or nits should not be allowed in group settings such as child care until they get lice/nit treatment.  The Child Care Health Program at Public Health Seattle-King County recommended recently that DEL add lice and/or nits to the list of diseases and conditions for which a child, staff person or family member must be excluded from a licensed family home child care (written comment on file at DEL).

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Or write to:
Rules Coordinator
Washington State Department of Early Learning
P.O. Box 40970
Olympia, WA 98504-0970