Medications can be crucial to the health and wellness of children. When possible, a child’s parents and health care provider should try to minimize the need for medications while in child care. However, some children will inevitably require medication while in the child care setting. Administering medication requires skill, knowledge and careful attention to detail!  Child care staff must be diligent in their adherence to medication administration policies and procedures to safely administer medication to children.

When children get sick, it is only natural for parents to want to do what they can to make them feel better. For many parents, the first idea is to follow the same steps they would when they are sick, and this often means using an over the counter medicine (OTC).  It’s important to realize that many of the medicines adults take may not be safe for children, especially under a certain age.  Although MN DHS licensing allows child care centers to give children over the counter medications, as long as rules and regulations are followed, as Health Consultants, we draw extreme caution to the practice of giving OTC medications and really recommend getting a doctor’s note for all OTC’s.  With cold and flu season coming up, parents may think to turn to OTC meds when their children are ill, but a doctor may likely not recommend that so that’s one reason we suggest requiring a health care provider’s order for all OTC meds.

In this post, we are going to look at medication administration and a few of the things you should consider before giving any medication, OTC or prescription, to a child.

  • Written parent/guardian permission is always required.
  • Families should check with the child’s physician to see if a dose schedule can be arranged that does not involve the hours the child is in the child care facility.
  • The first dose of any new medication should always be given at home to observe for possible adverse effects.
  • Prescription medication must be in the original child-resistant container with a pharmacy label that includes the child’s name, name of the medication, date filled, prescribing health care provider’s name, pharmacy name and phone number, dosage/instructions, length of time to be given, and expiration date.
  • We recommend OTC medication include an authorization from the child’s prescribing health care provider indicating the purpose of the medication. Medication must be in the original child-resistant container and include the child’s name, the name of the medication, dose and directions for use, an expiration date and a list of warnings and possible adverse effects.
  • OTC diapering cream, sunscreen and insect repellent requires parental consent (may be a blanket permission form) but does not require instructions from each child’s prescribing health care provider.
  • Prescribed long-term medications (i.e., medications that are to be given routinely or available routinely for chronic conditions such as asthma, allergies, and seizures, must be accompanied by an ICCP.
  • The facility should not administer home remedies and cannot administer medications prescribed for another family member.
  • Staff should wash their hands before and after administering medications.
  • Medications will not be added to child’s bottle or food.

Documentation of medications:

  • The staff should document child’s Medication Administration immediately after the medication is given.

Medication Storage:

  • The center should follow proper procedures in handling and storage of medications, including storing medication inaccessible to children at all times.

Returning medication

  • Medications no longer being used should be promptly returned to parents/guardians or discarded.


Medication policies of a center should be reviewed initially with parents upon enrollment and should be stated in the parent handbook.

Medication policies should also be reviewed with staff at orientation and staff should receive annual medication training.


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