These fact sheets serve as tools to help Head Start health managers provide important information to Head Start staff about National Center on Health (NCH) priorities. We hope that you find them useful as you work within your programs and communities to strengthen the health and wellness of all Head Start children.
Caring for Our Children Basics represents the minimum health and safety standards necessary where children are cared for outside of their home. These standards seek to reduce the redundancy cross standards with multiple funding streams.
Existing and/or newly constructed, renovated, remodeled, or altered buildings should be inspected by a building inspector to ensure compliance with applicable state and local building and fire codes before the building can be used for the purpose of early care and education.
Licensing inspectors or monitoring staff should make on-site inspections to measure program compliance with health, safety, and fire standards prior to issuing an initial license and no less than one, unannounced inspection each year thereafter to ensure compliance with regulations. Additional inspections should take place if needed for the program to achieve satisfactory compliance or if the program is closed at any time. The number of inspections should not include those inspections conducted for the purpose of investigating complaints. Complaints should be investigated promptly, based on severity of the complaint. States should post results of licensing inspections, including complaints, on the internet for parent and public review. Parents/guardians should have easy access to licensing rules and made aware of how to report complaints to the licensing agency.
No electrical device or apparatus accessible to children should be located so it could be plugged into an electrical outlet while a person is in contact with a water source, such as a sink, tub, shower area, water table, or swimming pool.
Center-based programs should not have firearms or any other weapon on the premises at any time. If present in a family child care home, parents should be notified and these items should be unloaded, equipped with child protective devices, and kept under lock and key with the ammunition locked separately in areas inaccessible to the children. Parents/guardians should be informed about this policy.
Programs should have a sign-in/sign-out system to track those who enter and exit the facility. The system should include name, contact number, relationship to facility (e.g., parent/guardian, vendor, guest, etc.), and recorded time in and out.
Programs should meet state or local laws regarding carbon monoxide detectors, including circumstances when detectors are necessary. Detectors should be tested monthly, and testing should be documented. Batteries should be changed at least yearly. Detectors should be replaced according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
All accessible electrical outlets should be “tamper-resistant electrical outlets” that contain internal shutter mechanisms to prevent children from sticking objects into receptacles. In settings that do not have “tamper-resistant electrical outlets,” outlets should have “safety covers” that are attached to the electrical outlet by a screw or other means to prevent easy removal by a child. “Safety plugs” may also be used if they cannot be easily removed from outlets by children and do not pose a choking risk.