When you look at your child care center, what do you see? Do you see happy children learning and playing together? Hopefully, your answer is yes! You know that a good child care environment is a positive place where children learn, and parents feel confident about their daycare choice.
Part of that positive environment is feeling secure. The daycare security measures at your center play an essential role in putting your parents and teachers at ease. That way, they can focus on providing a nurturing learning experience rather than worrying about safety.
Security for daycare centers is one of those essential functions that you want to run in the background. Everyone knows it’s there and that security measures are in place, but it enables those who work in a center to focus most of their time cultivating young minds.
As a child care manager or director, you have a lot of flexibility with child care center security. You can choose what makes sense for your business.
Thoughtful child care center security can include strategically placed video cameras, keyless entry and enhanced sign-in and sign-out procedures. Individual child care center security protocols can vary widely based on the size and type of daycare you manage.
What are the Top Safety Concerns for Daycare Centers?
Internal Security Concerns
Children’s health and safety are essential, of course. Internal safety issues can include physical safety measures like adding non-slip surfaces or using furniture that doesn’t have sharp edges.
It can also encompass your staff. You’ve probably heard or seen news stories about neglectful child care situations, and you want to do everything in your power to avoid such matters. As a result, do extensive background checks and ask for recommendations for your staff. Companies like Checkr make this really easy, plus its services can be integrated into child care management software for a more holistic view of your business.
External Security Concerns
External safety issues are typically the most concerning, such as a threat posed by a potential intruder or kidnapper. No one wants to think about it, but you have to be prepared.
According to the FBI and The National Center for Abused and Exploited Children, 421,394 children went missing in 2019 (the last year for which numbers are available.) This figure includes family members, who make up a significant percentage of individuals who abduct a child.
As a result, a common security concern relates to approved parental and guardian pick-ups. You may have parents amid a custody battle, for example. When you have an easy way to handle parent records and set up authorized pick-up people, your staff will be up to date on approved guardians.
There’s much more you can do when it comes to child care center security. While daycare security measures will vary depending on your facility and resources’ size, here’s a summary of security options.
8 Child Care Center Security Options
You probably know you need a security approach that’s friendly yet protective. It also needs to work with your daily operations and not get in the way of child care.
Fortunately, you can run a periodic security audit on your daycare security measures by following the below checklist. Once you’ve assessed what you do have, you can think through which additions make sense for your child care center.
1. Security Cameras
Video cameras are useful as a deterrent to anyone who may have questionable intentions. You can use video cameras to monitor entryways and community areas. In fact, some child care centers use cameras as a marketing tool because they can invite the parents to check into the live feed anytime they want to see their child.
Plus, video cameras are inexpensive, easy to install and you have the incident on tape if something happens.
2. Front Door Controls
Many child care centers keep entrances and exits locked, which prevents unauthorized people from entering the building.
Doors can be opened with a code, fingerprint scanner or interior door control. Some of these technologies also track the children’s attendance and employee timecards, so they help with the business management side of things too.
You can also adjust the times on doors with keyless entry, so they only function during business hours. This way, only authorized employees can enter at off-hours.
Sign-in and sign-out is a critical part of the day for a child care center because it ensures you’re able to get an accurate accounting of the children in your building. While some centers go low-tech with a paper sign-in/out system, many child care businesses are taking advantage of contactless sign-in/out technologies available through an app. Not only does the information automatically populate your child care management software, but also, it helps limit foot traffic in your building.
4. Front Desk Greeter
Your first line of daycare security is always going to be interaction with staff in some capacity. A staffed front desk is an easy way to see who’s coming and going. If your child care center has a visible front desk greeter, that person can answer questions and offer accompanied tours of your child care center when needed.
5. Call Station at Entrance
A call box at the entry is helpful. It will allow your staff to communicate with parents who forgot their codes, screen delivery people and even greet potential new customers.
6. Fire Extinguishers and Alarms
Child care center security should always include basics like working fire extinguishers. Additionally, you want to have regular fire drills as training for both staff and children. Here’s a sample child care evacuation plan you can reference to make sure you’re ready for any fire-related emergency.
7. Intruder Alarms
If there’s a security breach, these alarms will alert the staff. You can also install a panic button, which, when pressed, will notify first responders of an emergency without the need to get on the phone.
8. COVID Protocol
The pandemic added new complexities to daycare safety measures – not only with regard to cleaning and sanitation measures, but also in terms of enforcing physical distancing while trying to maintain strong relationships with families. By now, child care centers have gotten in a good rhythm with their COVID protocols, but parent communication is still a challenge. That’s why many have adopted use of a parent engagement app, which allows them to stay engaged with parents while maintaining a safe distance.
Ask These Questions to Assess Your Daycare Security
- Who has access to your center?
- How do you monitor their access?
- Do you have locked doors or other types of security?
- Do you have one main entrance, or do you have multiple entrances?
- How are your windows secured?
- Is there a history of propping open doors or leaving them unlocked?
- How do you monitor attendance and absences?
- What are your emergency policies, and are they communicated effectively?
- Has your child care center ever had a security breach?
- If you did have a security breach, how would you handle it?
All of these questions can help you assess your child care center security. It’s also a good idea to bring these up at a staff meeting periodically because you never know what someone else may have noticed.
Ways to Prioritize Your Daycare Center Security
There are so many options for child care center security. What type of security makes sense for your center? Only you and your leadership can make an educated decision based on your unique circumstances.
To help you decide, run the above questions with your staff regularly.
Parents and staff want a safe and productive environment for everyone. How can your daycare security measures help keep everyone safe and encourage learning?
Find out more about how a child care management system can help your child care business run smoother and safer.