Despite your diligence, caution, and attention to detail, emergencies can still happen at your child care center. Thankfully, the right tools and some careful planning can give your center the ability to manage a crisis with ease.
To keep children safe, keep parents informed, and make the right decisions during and after an emergency situation, you’ll need an emergency plan for your business that includes signed child care emergency forms.
Today we’ll talk about what kinds of emergencies a child care center can face, and how you can optimize your child care emergency forms to respond appropriately in every situation. We’ll also give some of our top preparedness tips to help you make the most of your emergency plans.
Finally, be sure to download our free child care emergency form template using the link at the end of the post. This template was designed by Procare’s child care experts to help your center implement our best practices and ensure the safety of every child in your care.
What is a Child Care Emergency?
Keeping children safe is a top priority at any child care center, and that means preparing for the unexpected. An emergency is an unexpected and hazardous event requiring immediate action. At a child care center, emergencies can include illnesses of children or staff, a serious accident, a fire, natural disasters or extreme weather, missing children, building hazards such as electrical failures, and more.
When the unexpected happens, you can avoid chaos by having a plan in place. If all staff are thoroughly trained on how to recognize and respond to emergencies, they’ll be able to step into the situation just as if it’s what they do every day. That way, you can resolve the crisis as soon as possible and minimize the impact on activities at your center.
What Belongs on a Child Care Emergency Form?
To get through an emergency effectively, it’s crucial to have child care emergency forms that give you access to all the right information to help kids and notify parents. Here are the five most important things to include on your child care emergency forms and why you’ll need them.
- Child & Family Information: This basic information includes the child’s name and date of birth and their parents’ or guardians’ names and phone numbers. This is key to verify the child’s identity and who you need to reach.
- Child Medical History: If the child has any medical issues, known allergies or medications, it’s important to have this information on file. This allows you to communicate effectively with emergency workers, avoid bad medication reactions, and effectively address the child’s medical needs during a crisis.
- Emergency Contact Information: In case parents aren’t available when an emergency happens, you’ll need to have a backup contact who is authorized to make decisions on their behalf.
- Family Physician and Insurance Information: In case a child needs emergency medical care, these details will help you have the child taken care of as quickly and smoothly as possible, and avoid unexpected costs to parents.
- Parent Acknowledgement and Consent: Make sure parents give their consent for your center to provide first aid and transportation in an emergency, for any medical expenses not covered by their insurance, and for their emergency contact to act on their behalf. This way they’ll know exactly what your center will do when an emergency happens.
How to Respond to a Child Care Emergency
Emergency Forms Must Be Accessible
Getting child care emergency forms completed and signed by parents is an important step in emergency planning, but those forms won’t help unless they’re available when and where you need them.
Having multiple copies of your emergency forms makes it faster and easier to get the information you need when it matters most. Child care management software can help you digitize your child care records, including child care emergency forms, making them instantly accessible from any computer or mobile device with an internet connection.
Open Multiple Channels for Communication
Not all channels of communication may be available in an emergency. To help families stay informed, set up the ability to send emergency updates in more than one way. For instance, you can use social media, mass text or email, your center’s voice mail message, and your online child care community. Plan ahead to keep lines of communication open: all staff should have extra phone chargers, change for payphones, social media passwords, and anything else they’ll need to get in touch.
Make sure parents know where they can expect to find emergency information, and how they can get in touch with staff (such as through mobile phones) if they need further details.
Follow Risk Management and Emergency Planning
To best prepare for all contingencies, start by assessing the most likely risks for your center. Some emergencies, like child illness or fire, can happen at any child care center. Others, such as earthquakes and tornadoes, are specific to your region. Once you have a list of potential risks, you can start thinking about how to manage and reduce those risks, such as by maintaining your fire safety equipment.
Then, create an emergency plan for each scenario. Top emergency planning tips include:
- Designate staff to different roles, such as performing first aid, contacting emergency services and doing headcounts.
- Have an evacuation plan and conduct lockdown, evacuation and fire drills frequently.
- Post emergency numbers and building plans in prominent locations.
When everyone knows exactly what to do, they’ll be able to respond to emergencies calmly and quickly.
Prioritize Child Safety
In an emergency situation, time is paramount. It’s important to secure children’s safety before any other step, including contacting parents. Administer first aid, call emergency services, and take other safety steps like evacuation or sheltering in place, then reach out to inform families. For efficiency, you can designate a person who will get in touch with children’s emergency contacts while someone else takes safety steps.
Emotional safety is an important part of your emergency plan, too. Consider what you can do to help keep children calm and reassured during an emergency, and how you can help them process the events and return to normal afterward.
Communicate Promptly with Parents
After managing your emergency, reach out to parents as soon as possible. Different emergencies have different time horizons, and not all children may be directly involved, so consider which medium is right for the situation. For example, phoning the parents of children affected by an accident, then sending a mass email update to other families, is a good way to communicate timely information without unneeded interruptions.
Keep your communications direct and accurate. Explain the situation, what has been done to manage it, and what the next steps are for you and families. That way parents have actionable information that reassures them that their kids are taken care of.
Digitize Your Child Care Emergency Forms with Procare Solutions
You’re committed to detailed emergency planning that ensures the children in your center are safe, no matter what happens. Let Procare help you with the rest. Our years of experience and expert community give us the wisdom to know what your center needs, from simplifying daily tasks to managing those once-a-year child care emergencies.
Procare’s trustworthy child care management software will be your all-in-one solution for running your center and keeping kids safe in a crisis. Our parent engagement app lets you keep parents informed in real time, while features like staff management and student tracking make it easy to keep track of who is in the building. You’ll also be able to quickly access and view digital child care emergency forms for every child at the touch of a button.
Plus, we’ve created this free child care emergency form template you can download and use at your center. It has everything you need to take care of kids, arrange for medical care and notify parents in case of emergency.
Ready to see how Procare helps you prepare for emergencies and ensure child safety at your center?