Child care workers play an important role in caring for children attending child care yet there is little research regarding their health.Methods The study consisted of focus groups with child care workers and a survey, conducted as part of a larger study known as the Healthy Child Care Study, which focused on children. The study investigated carers working in formal child care [long day care (LDC) and family day care (FDC)].Results Questionnaires to caregivers in centres showed that 86% had taken sick leave in the previous year and 75% of staff had taken leave for infectious illness. Carers in FDC reported that 24% had taken sick leave in the previous year and 12% of carers had taken leave for infectious illness. Of responding caregivers from centres, 22% were cigarette smokers while in FDC homes, 8% of carers smoked. In focus groups, carers reported that their major areas of health concern were stress, infectious illness and physical trauma such as lifting injuries.Conclusions Child care workers in LDC took more sick leave than those in FDC but this is not necessarily due to more illness. Child care workers are a diverse and important group that require further research.