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Top 10 Illnesses Keeping Children Absent From Childcare

In this article, we’ll reveal the top ten most common illnesses that stop children from attending childcare.

In addition, we’re going to discuss why it’s important to identify in advance which infectious illnesses are likely to impact families at your service.

We’ll also share how we can help you track, record and manage absences due to illness to assist in the control and prevention of an outbreak.

The top ten illnesses keeping children from attending childcare

We’ve swiftly reached this year’s winter months which is typically a time when infections, viruses and bugs become most prominent. During last year’s winter months (2019), KindyNow tracked and recorded over 11,000 childcare bookings that were marked as absent due to illness, as well as the illnesses that were contracted.

We’ve since reviewed this data to identify the top 10 most common illnesses that prevented children from attending their childcare service.

From common viruses to irritating symptoms, there were over 70 different illnesses and symptoms of illness recorded for absent bookings.

The top 10 most common illnesses recorded were:

1. Common Cold

2. Fever

3. Cough

4. Conjunctivitis

5. Influenza (Flu)

6. Viral Infection (Other)

7. Hand, Foot and Mouth

8. Ear Infection

9. Gastroenteritis (Gastro)

10. Vomiting

Collectively, the top ten accounted for up to 61% of the absent bookings.

The graph below shows the top ten illnesses and what percentage of the absent bookings each illness was responsible for.

It’s no surprise that the most common illness recorded was the common cold. A virus that is highly transmittable but usually short-term. The common cold was responsible for up to 15% of absent bookings. 

Experiencing a fever was the second-highest reason recorded. An increase in the average body temperature can be a sure sign of a child’s immune system fighting off an uninvited bug. Experiencing a high fever was responsible for up to 12% of absent bookings.

The third-highest reason keeping children from childcare was experiencing a cough, a symptom that can emerge when a child picks up any of a number of illnesses and causes much discomfort. Experiencing a cough was responsible for up to 10% of absent bookings.

Why it’s important to identify infectious illnesses early

It’s incredibly important to identify in advance which illnesses are likely to impact your service so you can effectively prepare your staff and resources. When you’re better prepared you can successfully work towards minimising potential health risks and preventing an outbreak, which could force your families into being absent from childcare.

Over 150,000 childcare bookings have already been notified as absent with us in 2020 and as we navigate through unprecedented times with the recent outbreak of the coronavirus we’ve seen a huge spike in absences and this figure continues to grow.

Now, it is more important than ever to ensure you have strong control and prevention strategies in place and your families are familiar with your strategy so they too can help you minimise the impact and spread of infectious illnesses.

National Quality Standards (NQS) and your strategy

Childcare services are required to have strict control and prevention measures in place to ensure they’re meeting the National Quality Standards in minimising risk and protecting children from infection. 

Here’s the Quality Area 2 under the NQS from ACECQA, which highlights the health and safety requirements.

Image sourced from ACECQA.


When working towards keeping a childcare service free from infectious illness, it’s difficult to eliminate all risks entirely when you have so many children and families coming in and out of your service on a daily basis. It’s important though to ensure your prevention and control strategy is always proactive and you’re continuously promoting good health and hygiene practices.

To learn more about best practices in preventing the spread of infectious illnesses head to NSW Health.

If you’d like more information about how to manage the events of the current coronavirus outbreak, head to the Australian Childcare Alliance.

Here’s how we can help:

Better track and record absent days and illnesses

One strategy that can assist you in preventing an outbreak at your service is to better track and record absent days and illnesses to ensure you understand what potential health risks may be present at your service.

As we know, it’s difficult to eliminate an illness entirely, so at some point, children who are unwell will need to stay home and rest. Children are likely to recover quickly in the comfort of their own home and being absent from childcare will help protect other children from also contracting the illness.

When families notify absent in advance and record which illness their child is experiencing, you can clearly understand what health risks may be present and how you can best minimise those risks and protect others from that particular illness.

At KindyNow, we help childcare services encourage their families to notify absent in advance and record which illness their child has contracted. Our solution creates a detailed record of absences and illnesses which services can always refer to when practising their control and prevention strategies.

Here are three ways we can help you track, record, and manage absent days and illnesses:

1. Instant absent notifications and a detailed record of illnesses

Families can instantly notify absent days and select if their child has an infectious illness. They can also let you know in detail what illness their child has contracted and what symptoms they’re experiencing.

This creates a detailed record of absences and illnesses which you can refer to all in one place.

2. Remind families about your ‘Illness Policy’

It’s important that families are familiar with what illness policies you have in place so they know when they should keep their sick child at home or how they can help you in minimising the spread of infectious illnesses.

We can help by sending an automated reminder to families to ask that they familiarise themselves with your ‘Illness Policy’ when approaching peak illness seasons.

3. Encourage families to let you know when they are ‘self-isolating’

With the recent coronavirus outbreak, many families are in lockdown and self-isolating. It’s important to know which families are self-isolating so you know exactly who is impacted by the virus and how you can support those families.

Families can instantly notify you when they’re self-isolating without having to call or email, helping you keep up to date with each family’s unique situation.

Want to improve the way you track and record absences?

Bridie McNally

Bridie McNally

KindyNow's Marketing and Communications Coordinator

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