PREPROPOSAL STATEMENT OF INQUIRY
Subject of Possible Rule Making: Requirements regarding administration of hand sanitizers in licensed child care for children over twelve months old with a parent's or guardian's written permission. The department of early learning (DEL) is planning to amend WAC 170-151-230 School age child care, 170-295-3060 Child care centers, and 170-296-0870 Family home child care, and may revise or adopt other related sections if appropriate.
Statutes Authorizing the Agency to Adopt Rules on this Subject: RCW 43.215.200, chapter 43.215 RCW.
Reasons Why Rules on this Subject may be Needed and What They Might Accomplish: The rules are needed to help protect the health and safety of children in DEL-licensed child care. The current worldwide outbreak of the H1N1 influenza virus has caused the World Health Organization to issue a Phase 6 pandemic flu alert. The state department of health (DOH) has filed emergency rules directing heightened vigilance regarding H1N1 monitoring, and the secretary of health has urged DEL to file emergency rules allowing alcohol-based hand sanitizer gels to be used in child care facilities. DEL filed such emergency rules and now intends to make the rules permanent.
DEL rules referenced above set requirements for administering prescription and nonprescription medications to children in licensed child care. The United States Food and Drug [Administration] classifies alcohol-based and similar hand sanitizer products as "over-the-counter (OTC) drugs," which are considered nonprescription medications under DEL rules. Unless a nonprescription medication is specifically listed as allowed for administration with parent or guardian permission, the child care center and school age center rules require a physician's written authorization specific to each child. This requirement is a barrier to using OTC hand sanitizer gels, which, in conjunction with hand washing with soap and warm water, can help reduce the spread of H1N1, other flu viruses, and other communicable diseases in child care settings. Hand sanitizers will also be listed in family home child care rules as a nonprescription medication that may be administered for children over twelve months of age with a parent's or guardian's written permission.
Other Federal and State Agencies that Regulate this Subject and the Process Coordinating the Rule with These Agencies: No federal agencies regulate the use of hand sanitizers in child care settings, although the Centers for Disease Control issues guidance materials. DEL is working closely with DOH on the proper use and safeguards for using hand sanitizer gels in child care, especially with toddlers and preschool-age children.
Process for Developing New Rule: Time permitting, DEL will circulate draft materials for comment before filing a formal proposed rule.
Interested parties can participate in the decision to adopt the new rule and formulation of the proposed rule before publication. Interested persons may join an e-mail or postal mail list to receive draft material and other notices about this rule by e-mailing Rules@del.wa.gov, by calling (360) 725-4397, or by writing to the DEL Rules Coordinator, P.O. Box 40970, Olympia, WA 98504-0970. Information will also be posted on the DEL web site at http://www.del.wa.gov/default.aspx.
October 22, 2009
Dr. Elizabeth M. Hyde