Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 3: Health Promotion and Protection

3.6 Management of Illness

3.6.3 Medications Training of Caregivers/Teachers to Administer Medication

Any caregiver/teacher who administers medication should complete a standardized training course that includes skill and competency assessment in medication administration. The trainer in medication administration should be a licensed health professional. The course should be repeated according to state and/or local regulation. At a minimum, skill and competency should be monitored annually or whenever medication administration error occurs. In facilities with large numbers of children with special health care needs involving daily medication, best practice would indicate strong consideration to the hiring of a licensed health care professional. Lacking that, caregivers/teachers should be trained to:

  1. Check that the name of the child on the medication and the child receiving the medication are the same;
  2. Check that the name of the medication is the same as the name of the medication on the instructions to give the medication if the instructions are not on the medication container that is labeled with the child’s name;
  3. Read and understand the label/prescription directions or the separate written instructions in relation to the measured dose, frequency, route of administration (ex. by mouth, ear canal, eye, etc.) and other special instructions relative to the medication;
  4. Observe and report any side effects from medications;
  5. Document the administration of each dose by the time and the amount given;
  6. Document the person giving the administration and any side effects noted;
  7. Handle and store all medications according to label instructions and regulations.

The trainer in medication administration should be a licensed health professional: Registered Nurse, Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), MD, Physician’s Assistant, or Pharmacist.

Administration of medicines is unavoidable as increasing numbers of children entering child care take medications. National data indicate that at any one time, a significant portion of the pediatric population is taking medication, mostly vitamins, but between 16% and 40% are taking antipyretics/analgesics (5). Safe medication administration in child care is extremely important and training of caregivers/teachers is essential (1).

Caregivers/teachers need to know what medication the child is receiving, who prescribed the medicine and when, for what purpose the medicine has been prescribed and what the known reactions or side effects may be if a child has a negative reaction to the medicine (2,3). A child’s reaction to medication can be occasionally extreme enough to initiate the protocol developed for emergencies. The medication record is especially important if medications are frequently prescribed or if long-term medications are being used (4).

Caregivers/teachers need to know the state laws and regulations on training requirements for the administration of medications in out-of-home child care settings. These laws may include requirements for delegation of medication administration from a primary care provider. Training on medication administration for caregivers/teachers is available in several states. Model Child Care Health Policies, 2nd Ed. from Healthy Child Care Pennsylvania is available at and contains sample polices and forms related to medication administration.
Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Medication Administration Labeling, Storage, and Disposal of Medications Written Policy on Use of Medications
Appendix AA: Medication Administration Packet
Appendix O: Care Plan for Children with Special Health Care Needs
  1. Heschel, R. T., A. A. Crowley, S. S. Cohen. 2005. State policies regarding nursing delegation and administration in child care settings: A case study. Policy, Politics, and Nursing Practice 6:86-98.
  2. Qualistar Early Learning. 2008. Colorado Medication Administration Curriculum. 5th ed.
  3. Fiene, R. 2002. 13 indicators of quality child care: Research update. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.
  4. Calder, J. 2004. Medication administration in child care programs. Health and Safety Notes. Berkeley, CA: California Childcare Health Program.
  5. Vernacchio, L., J. P. Kelly, D. W. Kaufman, A. A. Mitchell. 2009. Medication use among children <12 years of age in the United States: Results from the Slone Survey. Pediatrics 124:446-54.