Emergency Preparedness

Early childhood programs and families face the challenge of preparing for emergencies. An emergency can occur suddenly, with little or no warning. It can deprive people of even the most basic necessities, including food and shelter. Emergencies also may have significant social and emotional impacts that linger long after the event. Explore this section to find tip sheets, checklists, and resources that offer guidance and techniques to cope with emergencies and disasters.

Types of Emergencies and Disasters

Disasters strike suddenly and emergencies occur quickly and unexpectedly. Being prepared can allow you to better protect yourself, families, and property, and to help others who may be affected. By preparing for emergency situations, you can empower staff and families to make decisions and take appropriate actions during an emergency.

Head Start Emergency Preparedness Manual

The Office of Head Start (OHS) developed the Head Start Emergency Preparedness Manual [PDF, 809KB] to provide Head Start programs with tools and resources to guide their planning process. It offers information on the emergency preparedness cycle, which includes planning, impact, relief, and recovery. Appendices include resources from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on natural disasters, health emergencies, terrorism, random acts of violence, and technical hazards. The Head Start Emergency Preparedness Manual is currently undergoing a revision. The updated version, with two new sections, will be available Spring 2014.

Response and Recovery

Programs play an important role in response and recovery efforts after a disaster or emergency. Providing stability and sharing information about resources and agencies that can assist families is critical in the days and weeks after the event. Explore and share the linked materials that include social and emotional supports for children and adults and disaster recovery resources for families and for programs.

Watch these two videos from OHS for information and resources to support grantees' work with children, families, and staff in the event of an emergency. The Emergency Preparedness Webcast presents a panel discussion about the importance of being prepared and how programs can support children and families during all stages of an emergency. The Hurricane Sandy: A Year After Webinar focuses on the importance of mental health support and service enhancements to assist children, families, and staff after a traumatic event.

Children and Youth Task Force in Disasters:
Guidelines for Development

The Administration for Children and Families and partners from across the country developed the Children and Youth Task Force in Disasters: Guidelines for Development. This model is designed to guide child- and youth-serving organizations, agencies and professionals as they work together to develop plans for disaster preparedness and response focusing on the young people in their community.

Last Reviewed: February 2014

Last Updated: January 7, 2015