Sick kids disrupt child care plans; United Way
aims to help
Task force's goal to assist working parents with plan
By Kara Patterson
Post-Crescent staff writer September 18, 2006
A task force is educating families about setting up care plans in advance of a
child's illness after discovering that many working parents have no one to baby-
sit their sick kids.
Helping families handle child care dilemmas has been a priority since 2001 for
United Way Fox Cities, which helped convene the task force that includes
business, health and education professionals.
"When we have so many service-related jobs people are finding it more difficult
to take time off work to care for a sick child," said Mary Wisnet, a United Way
community development staff member.
The task force created a 22-page booklet describing common childhood illnesses
and when symptoms may warrant a student's absence from school.
"Certainly parents of kids who are kindergartners and preschoolers haven't had
that experience and so may not have the information," said Appleton Area School
District nurse Christine Cornell, who helped design the booklet. "I don't think
parents think about communicable disease and how vulnerable kids are."
The booklet has a chart for families to record contact information for
pediatricians, hospitals, relatives and neighbors.
Four schools — chosen for their higher absentee rates, larger non-English
speaking populations and greater numbers of students receiving free or reduc ed
meals — are part of a pilot program.
At least 2,000 copies of the booklet are ready for families at Lincoln, Columbus
and Foster elementary schools in Appleton and Gegan Elementary School in
Columbus Principal Jennifer Dordel said the majority of parents will see them for
the first time during the school's welcome night Tuesday.
By educating parents, the task force hopes to reduce numbers of sick children in
schools and help parents better plan ahead for times when they might need to
stay home from work or call on another caregiver.
Wisnet said the task force would like to distribute the booklet throughout the
Wisnet said by the end of this month, United Way plans to post the booklet in
English, Hmong and Spanish on its Web site.