Embracing Health and Wellness Series

In the Embracing Health and Wellness series, learn about current research topics.  Explore best practices and safety tips for Head Start and child care programs.

Children and Youth Task Force in Disasters: Guidelines for Development

Children and youth are at heightened risk in disasters and public health emergencies. In an effort to meet the challenge of addressing the complex needs of children, youth, and families in disasters, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Human Services Emergency Preparedness and Response (OHSEPR) and partners from across the nation developed a model. It was designed to bring together Whole Community child-and youth-serving agencies, organizations, and professionals in a single forum for shared strategic coordination to meet the needs of children and youth. The Children and Youth Task Force model has emerged as a promising practice to promote effective coordination of these diverse systems and agencies.

Emergency Procedures

Programs should have a procedure for responding to situations when an immediate emergency medical response is required. Emergency procedures should be posted and readily accessible. All providers and/or staff should be trained to manage an emergency until emergency medical care becomes available.

Availability and Use of a Telephone or Wireless Communication Device

The facility should provide at all times at least one working non-pay telephone or wireless communication device for general and emergency use on the premises of the child care program, in each vehicle used when transporting children, and on field trips. While transporting children, drivers should not operate a motor vehicle while using a mobile telephone or wireless communications device when the vehicle is in motion or traffic.

Disaster Planning, Training and Communication/Emergency and Evacuation Drills

Early care and education programs should consider how to prepare for and respond to emergency situations or natural disasters that may require evacuation, lock-down, or shelter-in-place and have written plans, accordingly. Written plans should be posted in each classroom and areas used by children. The following topics should be addressed, including but not limited to regularly scheduled practice drills, procedures for notifying and updating parents, and the use of the daily class roster(s) to check attendance of children and staff during an emergency or drill when gathered in a safe space after exit and upon return to the program. All drills/exercises should be recorded.