Event Helps Answer Parents' Concerns about Their Child's Health

Dec. 17, 2012 ~ Deciding whether a child is sick enough to warrant a doctor's visit can be a worry for parents. Thanks to the annual Health Care Institute program, parents of Olathe Head Start students have resources to help them make an informed decision about their child's health concerns.

"We are thrilled with 90 parents signed up this year," Head Start's parent involvement coordinator Chanda Barnett said.

Olathe Head Start first offered Health Care Institute six years ago, as part of a joint project with Johnson & Johnson, the University of California Los Angeles, and Kansas Head Start. One of the key pieces of information parents receive is the book "What to Do When Your Child Gets Sick."

"The book is fabulous," Barnett said. "We teach parents about how to use the book, where the book should be kept, who they should tell about the book, like a babysitter or grandparent."

A video, question and answer session with a pediatrician, and information about the KanCare (state Medicaid) program were also part of this year's event.

"The parents go home knowing so much more," Barnett said.

Head Start Director Kim Sill referred to a 2011 survey in which local parents commented:

"The course gave me more confidence to handle medical problems.""The book was very organized and helped me understand everything."

According to Health Care Institute data collected by the Kansas Head Start Association in 2009-11:

  • 3 percent of parents reported having a health book at home.
  • 86 percent of participants continued using the book after the training.
  • 41 percent fewer parents went to the doctor or clinic and 29 percent fewer went to the emergency room first when their child was sick.
  • Children lost an average of 18 percent fewer school days after parents participated in the training.
Taking a child's temperature Parents of Head Start students learn how to use a thermometer to check their child’s temperature. Whether they use an ear thermometer like the one used by school nurse Carolyn Finken-Dove or a simple under-the-tongue style, it’s important to place the thermometer in the correct location and leave it long enough for a valid reading.
Applying a bandage Proper treatment of a wound, even a simple scratch, is important. The book “What to Do When Your Child Gets Sick” gives parents advice on how to handle everything from applying bandages to stopping a nosebleed. Head Start nurse Carolyn Finken-Dove shows a student how easy it is to apply a bandage.
Students look at the first aid kit A couple of Head Start students checked out the first aid kits that were presented to attendees of the recent Health Care Institute. The boxes had everything from cotton balls to toothbrushes and toothpaste in them: the basic necessities for any home medicine cabinet.
Children hold books

The book “What to Do When Your Child Gets Sick” was provided to parents in both English and Spanish. Common health issues covered in the book include stomach pain, pink eye, head lice, chicken pox, and injuries. An A to Z glossary of terms also helps parents get more familiar with basic childhood health concerns.

Photos by Marlene Colgan