The U.S. has encountered many pandemics, including Spanish Influenza, HIV/AIDS, H1N1, and more recently, COVID-19. Early childhood settings have to adapt to every pandemic individually as each one requires different emergency responses to keep children and staff safe. Every early childhood program should have an emergency plan that addresses how their program prepares, responds, and recovers from health pandemics, influenza, and other illnesses. This plan should be adaptable for emerging needs and health concerns. Early care and education programs should communicate regularly with local public health experts to determine community risk, infection control measures, and to revise existing policies and services to children and families. Additionally, Head Start programs should utilize their Health Services Advisory Committee to build or adapt their emergency plans. This chapter provides information and resources on preparing, responding, and recovering from health outbreaks and pandemics.
Resource: CCDR Health and Safety Requirements Brief Emergency Preparedness and Response Planning
Standards and Best Practices Related to a Pandemic
There are early childhood program standards and past practices to guide your planning, policies, and procedures. There are also plenty of resources available locally, regionally, and nationally to help you develop the best plans and actions to protect your program’s children, staff members, and families.
Head Start Program Performance Standards
HSPPS § 1302.47.b.6
All staff systematically and routinely implement hygiene practices that, at a minimum, ensure:
(i) Appropriate toileting, hand washing, and diapering procedures are followed;
(ii) Safe food preparation; and,
(iii) Exposure to blood and body fluids are handled consistent with standards of the Occupational Safety Health Administration.
(2) Equipment and materials. All indoor and outdoor play equipment, cribs, cots, feeding chairs, strollers, and other equipment used in the care of enrolled children, and as applicable, other equipment and materials meets:
(i) Be clean and safe for children’s use and are appropriately disinfected Head Start Program Policies and Regulations are available at https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/policy/45-cfr-chap-xiii.
What is a Health Pandemic?
A health pandemic is the worldwide spread of a new disease. Pandemics happen when a new virus emerges and spreads at a time when most people do not have immunity or protection to fight the virus or disease.
Caring for Our Children
Visit the collection of national standards that represent best practices for quality health and safety policies in child care settings.
CFOC4 Standard 1.3.2 Caregiver’s/Teacher’s and Other Staff Qualifications
CFOC4 Standard 1.4.2 Orientation Training
CFOC4 Standard 1.4.4 Continuing Education/Professional Development/Training
CFOC4 Standard 126.96.36.199 Observation of Staff
CFOC4 Standard 188.8.131.52 Mutual Responsibility of Parents/Guardians and Staff
CFOC4 Standard 3.1.1 Conduct of Daily Health Check
CFOC4 Standard 3.2.3 Exposure to Body Fluids
CFOC4 Standard 3.6.1 Inclusion/Exclusion Due to Illness
CFOC4 Standard 3.6.2 Caring for Children Who Are Ill
CFOC4 Standard 3.6.4 Reporting Illness and Death
CFOC4 Standard 5.4.1 Toilet and Handwashing Areas
CFOC4 Chapter 7 Infectious Diseases
CFOC4 Standard 9.2.3 Health Policies
CFOC4 Standard 184.108.40.206 Written Plan for Seasonal and Pandemic Influenza
CFOC4 Standard 220.127.116.11 Health History
CFOC4 Standard 10.3.2 Advisory Groups
CFOC4 Standard 10.4.2.4 Agency to Collaboration to Safeguard Children in Child Care
CFOC4 Standard 10.5.0 Health Department Responsibilities and Role
CFOC4 Standard 10.6.1 Caregiver/Teacher Training
For the most current Caring for Our Children Standards, see www.nrckids.org/cfoc.
Resource Type: Article
National Centers: Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety
Last Updated: May 10, 2021