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.

Head Start Emergency Preparedness Manual

The Head Start Emergency Preparedness Manual, 2015 Edition provides programs with the latest tools and resources to guide their planning process. Use it 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, Head Start programs need to be ready with impact, relief, and recovery plans. Note: This resource is under review.

Responding to Crises and Tragic Events: Information and Handouts
When school shootings, community violence, and natural disasters (e.g., hurricanes or floods) occur, people often seek resources to help them respond. These tip sheets and sample letters were developed to help programs respond to the needs of staff and families.

Responding to Crises and Tragic Events: Planning, Reviewing, and Practicing Your Program's Emergency Preparedness Plans
When a tragic event or disaster receives national or local news coverage, your staff may feel they need to test and update the plans that are in place. This will ensure that they know what to do to keep their children, families, and staff as safe as possible. Testing, practicing, and updating your emergency preparedness plans should be completed with your planning team and involve your program and community partners.

Emergency Preparedness Tip Sheets
These tip sheets were created for use with Early Head Start and Head Start families and staff affected by a crisis or tragic event and are available in both Spanish and English. They focus on children's responses and how parents and caring adults can help them cope.

Emergency Preparedness in Head Start and Early Childhood Settings Webinar
Learn how to plan and prepare for emergencies. The webinar identifies strategies Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care programs can use to improve their emergency preparedness efforts. Staff also will learn how they can help children and families prepare. Key resources and information may be used to assist programs in their emergency preparedness planning.

Health Services Newsletter: It’s Time to Prepare for Emergencies and Disasters (October 2014)
Now is a good time to review your program's plans to address natural disasters relevant to your location. These may include earthquakes, tornados, tsunamis or flash floods, extreme temperatures, storms, and volcanoes. It also is important to be aware of other potential hazards and disasters. Acts of violence, exposure to hazardous agents, facility damage, fire, a missing child, and power outages might happen anywhere. This edition of the health manager's newsletters provides suggestions and resources for reviewing your program's plans.

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.

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.

Last Reviewed: August 2016

Last Updated: December 1, 2016