By Marco Beltran, Program Specialist for the Office of Head Start
Many programs are still in the first month of classes. Staff members are reuniting with returning families and meeting those new to Head Start or Early Head Start. Infants and toddlers are getting used to the sights and sounds of their new environment. And, 3- to 5-year-olds are exploring learning stations situated in every classroom.
For our Head Start programs that reopened this August, now is a good time to review your Emergency Preparedness Plan and revise it as needed. Be sure to inform families of your steps to keep their child safe. If your program does not have a formal, written plan, it’s important that you develop one. A good place to start your plan or revision is to consult with your:
- Health Services Advisory Committee (HSAC)
- Policy Council
- Local emergency management agency
- Regional emergency management specialists
When creating your plan or making revisions, consider all possible emergencies that may occur in your program, community, state, or region. These may include hurricanes, tornados, extreme temperatures, facility damage, fire, a missing child, or power outages. You can gather this information from previous experience, local emergency management agencies, or regional emergency management specialists.
For each emergency, outline step-by-step procedures to help your program prepare, respond, and recover. This includes steps to:
- Reduce the risk of damage or harm to children, staff, and property
- Take appropriate action during a disaster
- Help children, staff, and families return to Head Start and Early Head Start programs after the emergency
Remember to consider children and staff with physical or developmental disabilities when forming your plan. Accommodations should be outlined to make sure all individuals are safe.
For more information on what to include in your plan, check out the Office of Head Start (OHS) National Center on Health’s Emergency Preparedness page.