Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 3: Health Promotion and Protection

3.6 Management of Illness

3.6.3 Medications Labeling, Storage, and Disposal of Medications

Any prescription medication should be dated and kept in the original container. The container should be labeled by a pharmacist with:

  • The child’s first and last names;
  • The date the prescription was filled;
  • The name of the prescribing health professional who wrote the prescription, the medication’s expiration date;
  • The manufacturer’s instructions or prescription label with specific, legible instructions for administration, storage, and disposal;
  • The name and strength of the medication.

Over-the-counter medications should be kept in the original container as sold by the manufacturer, labeled by the parent/guardian, with the child’s name and specific instructions given by the child’s prescribing health professional for administration.

All medications, refrigerated or unrefrigerated, should:

  • Have child-resistant caps;
  • Be kept in an organized fashion;
  • Be stored away from food;
  • Be stored at the proper temperature;
  • Be completely inaccessible to children.

Medication should not be used beyond the date of expiration. Unused medications should be returned to the parent/guardian for disposal. In the event medication cannot be returned to the parent or guardian, it should be disposed of according to the recommendations of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (1). Documentation should be kept with the child care facility of all disposed medications. The current guidelines are as follows:

  1. If a medication lists any specific instructions on how to dispose of it, follow those directions.
  2. If there are community drug take back programs, participate in those.
  3. Remove medications from their original containers and put them in a sealable bag. Mix medications with an undesirable substance such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter. Throw the mixture into the regular trash. Make sure children do not have access to the trash (1).
Child-resistant safety packaging has been shown to significantly decrease poison exposure incidents in young children (1).

Proper disposal of medications is important to help ensure a healthy environment for children in our communities. There is growing evidence that throwing out or flushing medications into our sewer systems may have harmful effects on the environment (1-3).

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Medication Administration Training of Caregivers/Teachers to Administer Medication
  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2010. Disposal by flushing of certain unused medicines: What you should know.
  2. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2009. Pharmaceuticals and personal care products as pollutants (PPCPs). http://www.epa
  3. Fiene, R. 2002. 13 indicators of quality child care: Research update. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.