Safety & Injury Prevention
Identifying risks and preventing injury is fundamental to Head Start's mission. Programs must provide safe and secure places for children to learn, whether they are enrolled in home-based, center-based, or family child care options. Because young children like to explore, consistent safety practices, like using gates, locks, and other safety equipment, prevent children from getting into dangerous areas. Adults serve as role models, demonstrating and explaining safe behaviors and helping children learn to safely explore their environment. Note: These resources are under review.
New! Head Start program managers, staff, and families keep children safe by creating a culture of safety. Everyone contributes to an environment that allows people to speak up about safety concerns. They also make it all right to talk about mistakes and errors, and encourage learning from these events. Children are safer when everyone works together to improve the strategies they use in homes, centers, and the community. Explore Culture of Safety to learn more.
Select a topic below to see available content:
Safe and Healthy Environments
Maintaining environments that are both healthy and safe is a top priority of Head Start. Children are more likely to engage in learning when programs and families establish healthy environments and use appropriate injury prevention strategies to promote child safety and prevent injuries. The resources below will help program staff and families use research-based strategies to establish safe and healthy environments.
- A Day in A Life – A Child's Perspective: A Learning Activity
- A Day in A Life – The Adult's Perspective: A Learning Activity
- A Week on Active Supervision: Keeping Children Safe
- Active Supervision
- Active Supervision Webinar
- Even Plants Can Be Poisonous
- Hazard Mapping Instructions for Grantees
- Health Services Newsletter: Summer Safety (May 2014)
- Home Safety Webinar
- How Do Injuries Affect Us? A Learning Activity
- Injuries and Development: A Learning Activity
- Keep Children Safe Using Active Supervision
- Lead Poisoning Prevention for Head Start Children
- Resource Guide: Safety and Injury Prevention Head Start Regulations and Guidance
- Reviewing Injury Logs: A Learning Activity
- Secondhand Smoke: How to Prevent Asthma Triggers in Children
- Tips for Keeping Children Safe: A Developmental Guide
- Tips for Keeping Infants and Toddlers Safe: A Developmental Guide for Home Visitors
- Understanding Childhood Injuries: Key Concepts, Background Information
- Using CFOC3 and Compliance with Care to Support Infants and Toddlers
In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children being transported in school buses. Transportation of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers must be established with the mutual cooperation of parents, local programs, and transportation providers. Accordingly, transportation providers need to be knowledgeable and develop practices that provide adequately for the safety of young children on school buses. Program directors and staff can refer to the resources in this section to further their understanding of what is required for transporting young children.
Environmental Protection Efforts
The Office of Head Start, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other governmental agencies partner to identify potential environmental concerns and provide strategies for reducing or eliminating the risk of exposure. Pollutants or contaminants that may affect the health of children can be found in air, water, food, and soil. Programs must reduce or eliminate contaminants in the air children breathe, the water they drink, and the food they eat. Families must receive information and support to remove or minimize environmental issues at home. Explore the links below to learn about various environmental protection efforts and strategies to make centers and homes healthy.
- 10 Tips to Protect Children from Pesticide and Lead Poisoning ES
- Bugged by Bugs? Try Integrated Pest Control Management (IPM)
- Care for Their Air: Promoting Smoke-Free Homes and Cars for Head Start Families
- Caring for Children with Asthma: Key Concepts, Background Information
- Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program
- EPA Indoor Air – Smoke-Free Homes Program
- How Secondhand Smoke Affects You and Your Child!
- Mold – Prevention and Remediation Strategies for the Control and Removal of Fungal Growth
- The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke (2006)
Hygiene, Sanitation, and Universal Precautions
Good hygiene, proper sanitation, and consistently following universal precautions in early childhood settings is essential for reducing health risks to children and adults by limiting the spread of infectious germs. Adults model healthy hygiene practices and teach them to children so they will develop the habits that they will use throughout their lives. Compliance with appropriate sanitation measures and universal precautions protects the health and safety of everyone.
- Common Cold
- Cover Your Cough
- Ebola: What Parents Need to Know
- Health Services Newsletter: Preventing and Managing Influenza (December 2014)
- Health Tips for Home Visitors to Prevent the Spread of Illness [PDF, 350KB]
- Latex Allergy [See Spanish version]
- Recognizing and Managing Communicable Diseases: Key Concepts, Background Information
The proper storage of medication and its administration by trained staff safeguards the health of children, families, and staff. Programs must develop, implement, and monitor policies and procedures for administrating medication that meet both Head Start regulations and any applicable state laws relating to medication administration. A review of the links below will provide additional guidance.
Child Abuse and Neglect
Children who are cared for and nurtured can grow up to be happy and healthy adults. However, harsh discipline, inconsistent nurturing, or the lack of a caring adult to form an attachment with can produce long-lasting consequences and can affect children's' health, well-being, and relationships with others.
With violence and other dangers escalating in the streets, workplace, and home, the issue of family and staff safety is one of mounting concern. Families who are experiencing domestic violence are more likely to be living in a crisis situation. Action must be taken at all program levels to make family and staff safety a priority. Find useful tools and resources below.
Last Reviewed: February 2017
Last Updated: March 27, 2017