It is important for programs to have procedures in place if children cannot be reunited with their parents/guardians immediately. Roads close, care gets delayed, and work shifts go into overtime during emergencies for parents/guardians working in hospitals or as first responders. Having a plan in case you need to take care of a child overnight is a critical part of your reunification procedures.
An effective method of reuniting children with their parents and guardians after an emergency is an often-overlooked component of an emergency plan, but it is very important. Including up-to-date emergency contact information for each child in your emergency kit can help provide structure around this process.
Reunification procedures that should be communicated to parents/guardians:
- Evacuation or shelter-in-place locations
- What the program will do during a lockdown response
- What parents should do during a lockdown response
- Who will contact parents/guardians before, during, and after an emergency
- How parents/guardians will be contacted (e.g., text, email, phone call)
- Procedures if a child needs to be transported for medical care (e.g., who will accompany the child, where they will go)5
- Consider saving valuable, important information for families and staff in digital/electronic as well as print formats.
5. UCLA Center for Public Health and Disasters. Head Start Disaster Preparedness Workbook. 2004
Topic: Safety Practices
National Centers:Early Childhood Health and Wellness
Last Updated: October 7, 2019