The Washington State Department of Early Learning (DEL) is in the process of updating safe sleep guidelines, policies and procedures for licensors to use when licensing child care centers and family home providers.
“We are happy to revisit our current policy and procedures regarding safe sleep, and to consistently apply the most effective guidelines possible to our licensing work,” said Mary Kay Quinlan, DEL’s Early Learning and Child Care Statewide Licensing Administrator. “We want licensed care providers, parents and the public to have access to training and to continually practice safe sleep guidelines to promote the safety of children throughout Washington.”
DEL’s website was recently updated with safe sleep training modules (in both English and Spanish), and new Washington Administrative Code (WAC) sections regarding safe sleep in child care have been drafted and filed to reflect the most up-to-date guidelines for safe sleep. After public input, the new WAC regarding safe sleep should be approved by the end of the summer.
DEL’s training explains the importance of protecting infants during a crucial time of their development, and also allows providers, parents and the public to learn about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and what you can do to reduce the risk of SIDS with recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics, focusing on a safe sleep environment. Resources to print out are included in these training modules.
The updated guidelines will state that infant safe sleep practices must be followed when infants are napping or sleeping. In child care (either at a center or at a family home setting), staff must do the following when practicing safe sleep in accordance with the updated WAC:
• Place an infant to sleep on his or her back. If the infant has turned over while sleeping, the infant does not need to be returned to his or her back;
• Not allow blankets, stuffed toys, pillows, crib bumpers and similar items in the infant sleeping equipment, or allow a blanket to cover or drape over the sleeping equipment;
• Not cover an infant’s head and face during sleep;
• Take steps so infants do not get too warm during sleep with the infant’s arms free; and
• Not place the infant in another sleeping position other than on their back, or use a sleep positioning device unless required by a written directive or medical order from the infant’s health care provider. This directive or medical order must be in the infant’s file.
In the proposed WAC update, child care staff at a licensed facility who work with infants must complete annual safe sleep training and document this training annually. If a violation occurs, the provider must post notice of the violation in the licensed space and within five working days of receiving the notice, provide parents and guardians of the enrolled child with a letter describing the sleep violation and written information on safe sleep practices.