Keeping children safe is everyone’s job, but it isn’t enough for a program to establish injury prevention policies and procedures. Staff need ongoing training opportunities to implement safety practices consistently and effectively, and to share them with families.
Training can include guidance to ensure that:
- Facilities are free from pollutants, hazards, and toxins; designed to prevent injury and to be free from hazards, including choking, strangulation, electrical, drowning, and firearms or other weapons; and kept safe through an ongoing system of preventive maintenance.
- Children always receive appropriate supervision and are only released to an authorized adult.
- Staff understand and comply with all Head Start standards of conduct.
- Children are supported to understand the routine and procedures.
Tips and Strategies for Training Staff
Ensure all staff receive training upon hire and at least annually on these topics:
- Prevention of sudden infant death syndrome, and use of safe sleep practices
- Building and physical premises safety, including identification of and protection from hazards, bodies of water, and vehicular traffic
- Emergency preparedness and response planning for emergencies
- Handling and storage of hazardous materials and the appropriate disposal of biological contaminants
- Appropriate precautions in transporting children, if applicable
- First aid and CPR
- Recognition and reporting of child abuse and neglect
Resources for Staff Professional Development
Collaborating with Families
Programs can work with families to promote child safety by providing opportunities for safety education and support services. These opportunities allow families to learn about emergency first aid; environmental hazards, including exposure to lead; and safety practices for the home, such as safe sleep, vehicle, and pedestrian safety.
Head Start staff are in a unique position to support families when they know about common childhood injuries and how to eliminate hazards from the home. In your staff training, encourage family service staff and home visitors to help families conduct a home safety inspection. Familiarity with a checklist can help families identify possible hazards and injury-prevention strategies. Families are not always able to make the changes they want and need in their homes and communities, so it is important to individualize support to meet their needs. For example, a family whose landlord has refused to correct building code violations may need support advocating for safer living conditions.
Use community partners and members of the Health Services Advisory Committee to find local experts to provide training on safety topics. These experts can offer information and resources. With the family’s permission, find free and low-cost products they may need to make their homes safer. These might include:
- Electrical socket covers
- Oven protectors
- Guard rails
- Plastic covers for banisters or railings
- Bathtub thermometers
- Bumpers for furniture
- Gates for stairs and doorways
- Doorknob covers
- Locks for cabinets and drawers
- Lockboxes for hazardous materials such as firearms and ammunition
- Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Resources for Collaborating with Families
Resource Type: Article
National Centers: Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety
Audience: Directors and Managers
Last Updated: May 30, 2023