Safety Practices

Chapter 1: Introduction

Emergencies often happen suddenly and can be devastating to programs and communities. Emergency preparedness is the process of taking steps to ensure your early childhood education program is safe before, during, and after an emergency. Whether a natural disaster such as a tornado hits or a man-made emergency such as the appearance of a violent intruder occurs, early childhood educators need to know how to respond quickly and appropriately to situations that could happen in their program, center, or home. The purpose of this manual is to help child care providers and Head Start staff create an emergency preparedness plan specific to their program, center, or home.

Early childhood education programs play an important role in supporting children and families in their local communities before, during, and after an emergency through three phases of emergency management:

  • Preparedness—Takes place before an emergency. It includes being informed about any likely emergencies in your area; mitigating any existing concerns at your facility that could make an emergency worse; making plans to respond to emergencies before they happen; and building, maintaining, and updating supply kits you will take or keep with you during an emergency.
  • Response—Begins the moment you are alerted to an impending emergency and continues as the emergency occurs.
  • Recovery—Happens as soon as the emergency is over, when efforts are focused on food, water, shelter, safety, and the emotional needs of those affected. Recovery is also the process of rebuilding your program and returning to normalcy after an emergency, which is why it can last hours, weeks, months, or even years in the most extreme cases.

This manual will guide you through creating an emergency response and initial recovery plan for your program, center, or home.

Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) (§1302.47.b.4.ii) require emergency preparedness and response activities for all Head Start programs. https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/policy/45-cfr-chap-xiii/1302-47-safety-practices

The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014 requires both center-based and family child care providers to prepare written plans for responding to emergency situations or natural disasters. https://www.childcareaware.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/CCDBG-Moving-Forward-Disaster-Preparedness-S.10861.pdf

While emergency preparedness requirements for providers will vary based on state laws, this manual will help you incorporate national recommendations and best practices to keep children and adults safe during emergencies. https://childcareta.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/public/state_regulatory_requirements_for_emergency_ preparedness_planning_final.pdf

Three reasons to prepare:

  1. Emergencies, large and small, can occur in every community, even yours.
  2. Head Start Program Performance Standards (45 CFR 1302.47[b][8]) require all providers to prepare written plans for responding to emergency situations or natural disasters.
  3. Emergency preparedness saves lives! Your emergency preparedness helps children and families.