Emergency Preparedness Manual for Early Childhood Programs

Programs can use this manual as a guide for their emergency planning process. Find the latest tools and resources to support children, families, and communities before, during, and after an emergency. An emergency may be a catastrophic natural event, like a hurricane, flood, or wildfire, or a man-made disaster, such as a shooting. No matter the crisis, early childhood programs need to be ready with impact, relief, and recovery plans.

Safe Foundations, Healthy Futures Campaign

Learn about the Safe Foundations, Healthy Futures campaign. Explore ways to create safe and nurturing settings for children to grow up healthy and be ready to succeed in school.

Keep Children Safe Using Active Supervision

Children learn best when they are in safe, well-supervised environments. Head Start staff can reduce the possibility of a child getting hurt when they closely observe children and respond when needed. When programs think systematically about child supervision they create safe, positive learning environments for all children.

Even Plants Can Be Poisonous

Plants are important to our health and well-being, and they can help children understand and respect the natural world. However, some plants and seeds can be harmful when eaten or touched. According to Caring for Our Children Standard 5.2.9.10: Prohibition of Poisonous Plants, poisonous or potentially harmful plants are not allowed in any part of a child care facility. If Head Start management or staff are unsure whether a plant is toxic, they can work with the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) to identify it and determine whether it is safe. Review the list of common household plants to learn which are poisonous. Staff also can share the list with families so they can protect their children and pets from toxic plants at home.

Active Supervision

All Head Start educators are responsible for making sure that no child is left unsupervised. Active supervision is a strategy that works. It can be used in classrooms, family child care, playgrounds, and buses. It can also be shared with families as a tool to use at home. This fact sheet explains what active supervision is and how to use it in your program.

Create a Culture of Safety

In programs, all managers, staff, and families embrace the belief that children have the right to be safe by creating a culture of safety. They provide "an environment that encourages people to speak up about safety concerns, makes it safe to talk about mistakes and errors, and encourages learning from these events." Children are safer when managers, staff, and families work together to improve the strategies they use in homes, centers, and the community so children don't get hurt. Explore the resources below to learn more about creating a culture of safety.

Emergency Preparedness

Explore and share materials about disaster preparedness, response, and recovery for families and programs.

Hazard Mapping for Early Care and Education Programs

Hazard mapping is a process that Head Start programs can use after an injury occurs. It helps to: 1) identify location(s) for high risk of injury; 2) pinpoint systems and services that need to be strengthened; 3) develop a corrective action plan; and 4) incorporate safety and injury prevention into ongoing monitoring activities. Hazard mapping is employed effectively in emergency preparedness planning related to natural disasters. It also is used to isolate locations of disease outbreaks and determine where prevention efforts are most needed.