Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 3: Health Promotion and Protection

3.4 Health Protection in Child Care

3.4.2 Animals Care for Animals

The facility should care for all animals as recommended by the health department and in consultation with licensed veterinarian. When animals are kept on the premises, the facility should write and adhere to procedures for their humane care and maintenance. When animals are kept in the child care facility, the following conditions should be met:

Humane Care: An environment will be maintained in which animals experience:

  1. Good health;
  2. Are able to effectively cope with their environment;
  3. Are able to express a diversity of species specific behaviors.

Health Care: Proof of appropriate current veterinary certificate meeting local and state health requirement is kept on file at the facility for each animal kept on the premises or visiting the child care facility.

Animal care: Specific areas should be designated for animal contact.

Live animals should be prohibited from:

  1. Food preparation, food storage, and dining areas;
  2. The vicinity of sinks where children wash their hands;
  3. Clean supply rooms;
  4. Areas where children routinely play or congregate (e.g., sandboxes, child care facility playgrounds).

The living quarters of animals should be enclosed and kept clean of waste to reduce the risk of human contact with this waste.

Animal food supplies should be kept out of reach of children.

Animal litter boxes should not be located in areas accessible to children. Children and food handlers should not handle or clean up any form of animal waste (feces, urine, blood, etc).

All animal waste and litter should be removed immediately from children’s areas and will be disposed of in a way where children cannot come in contact with the material, such as in a plastic bag or container with a well-fitted lid or via the sewage waste system for feces.

Used fish tank water should be disposed of in sinks that are not used for food preparation or used for obtaining water for human consumption.

Disposable gloves should be used when cleaning aquariums and hands should be washed immediately after cleaning is finished. Eye and oral contamination by splashing of contaminated water during the cleaning process should be prevented. Children should not be involved in the cleaning of aquariums.

Areas where feeders, water containers, and cages are cleaned should be disinfected after cleaning activity is finished.

Pregnant persons should not handle cat waste or litter. Cat litter boxes should be cleaned daily.

All persons who have contact with animals, animal products, or animal environments should wash their hands immediately after the contact.

Animals, including pets, are a source of illness for people; likewise, people may be a source of illness for animals (1). All contact with animals, and animal wastes should occur in a fashion that minimizes staff and children’s risk of injury, infection and aggravation of allergy (2,4,5). Hand hygiene is the most important way to reduce the spread of infection. Unwashed or improperly washed hands are primary carriers of germs which may lead to infections.

Just as food intended for human consumption may become contaminated, an animal’s food can become contaminated by standing at room temperature, or by being exposed to animals, insects, or people.

Pregnant woman can acquire toxoplasmosis from infected cat waste. The infection can be transmitted to her unborn child. Congenital toxoplasmosis infection can lead to miscarriage or an array of malformations of the developing child prior to birth. Cat litter boxes should be cleaned daily since it takes one to five days for feces containing toxoplasma oocysts to become infectious with toxoplasmosis (3).

Ensuring animal welfare is a human responsibility that includes consideration for all aspects of animal well-being, inclusive of secure housing, suitable temperature, adequate exercise and proper diet, disease prevention and treatment, humane handling, and, when necessary, humane euthanasia (6). Animal well-being also includes continued care of animals during the days that child care is not in session and in the event of an emergency evacuation.
Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Situations that Require Hand Hygiene Handwashing Procedure Assisting Children with Hand Hygiene Training and Monitoring for Hand Hygiene Hand Sanitizers Animals that Might Have Contact with Children and Adults Prohibited Animals
  1. Weinberg, A. N., D. J. Weber, eds. 1991. Respiratory infections transmitted from animals. Infect Dis Clin North Am 5:649-61.
  2. National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians. 2007. Compendium of measures to prevent disease associated with animals in public settings. MMWR 56:1-13.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pregnant women and toxoplasmosis.
  4. Hansen, G. R. 2004. Animals in Kansas schools: Guidelines for visiting and resident pets. Topeka, KS: Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2009. Appendix D: Guidelines for animals in school and child-care settings. MMWR 58:20-21.
  6. American Veterinary Medical Association. Animal welfare principles.