Emergency planning for Childcare
New Hampshire Requirements
The Emergency Operations Plan required by the Child Care Program Licensing rules is one way that the childcare facilities can become more prepared. The exact requirements can be located in the NH Code of Administrative Rules, He-C 4002.19 Prevention and Management of Injuries and Emergencies.
Emergency Action/Operations Plan
According to the rule, childcare programs are required to develop an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) that:
- Is based on the Incident Command System (ICS) and coordinated with the emergency response agencies in the community,
- Contains procedures for communication and reunification with families, and
- Includes response actions, for natural, human-caused, or technological incidents including, but not limited to the following:
- Evacuation, both within the building and off-site, relocation;
- Secure campus;
- Drop, cover and hold;
- Reverse evacuation;
- Shelter-in-place; and
- Bomb threat, scan.
In an effort to assist childcare agencies in the development of their Emergency Operations Plan, the Childcare Center Emergency Plan Template was created.
Agencies are also required to share emergency information from the Emergency Operations Plan that addresses communication and reunification procedures upon enrollment to families.
The City of Nashua has developed standardized appendices for your emergency plan for each of the standardized 7 Response Actions. The 7 Response Actions provide simple actions that staff and students within your childcare centers can take to place themselves into a safe situation during the initial moments of an emergency. Using one or more of these actions during the initial moments of an emergency will handle 99% of the hazards your childcare will ever encounter.
Here is an example of how the 7 Response Actions can be used:
A large amount of police activity up the street from your childcare center prompts concern from staff and students.
- Your facility activates the "Secure Campus" response action, swiftly locking exterior doors, closing exterior window shades, maintaining additional vigilance of activities taking place outside your building, and tuning in to local media and emergency officials for updates.
- This move reduces the concern of building occupants by limiting the possibility of a threat from entering the building, enables all interior activities to continue as normal while providing your Emergency Response Team with time to organize and establish an Incident Command Post if necessary.
- From here the Childcare Emergency Response Team would leverage their Emergency Action Plan and provide additional direction to building occupants as needed.
These annexes are meant to be added to your Emergency Operations Plan as appendices. A large portion of your staff training program should incorporate the 7 Response Actions and practicing these actions through regular drills. Click the any response action below to view the response appendix. You can also access a folder containing all 7 Response Annexes here.
**The City has adopted the Avoid, Deny, Defend model to respond to an active threat/active shooter. Find more information about A.D.D. here. This response action expands the Lockdown concept to include avoiding the threat and defending yourself if necessary. You may have seen this method called "Run, Hide, Fight" or "A.L.I.C.E".
In addition to the 7 Response Action Annexes, the City has developed template annexes for three main functions which may be necessary during an emergency. Template Annexes have been developed for Communications, Transportation, and Reunification. All of these templates are likely to be applicable to your childcare center. In addition, there may be additional annexes that you will want to add to your emergency action plan other responsibilities within your Emergency Response Team (security, food services, logistics, etc). Your childcare center can customize and edit the annexes to fit your specific needs.
Access a folder containing the Communications, Transportation, and Reunification Annexes here.
One critical aspect of crisis response is accountable reunification of students with their parents or guardians in the event of a crisis or emergency. The City of Nashua has adopted the "I Love U Guys" Foundation's Standard Reunification Method (SRM) for schools and childcare centers across the City. SRM provides school and district safety teams with proven methods for planning, practicing and achieving a successful reunification. A predetermined, practiced reunification method ensures the reunification process will not further complicate what is probably already a chaotic, anxiety-filled scene. In fact, putting an orderly reunification plan into action will help defuse the emotion building at the site. The Standard Reunification Method includes instructions and templates for each childcare center to develop a Reunification Operations Kit to make the process of connecting students with their guardians after a crisis as organized as possible.
Continuity of Operations Plan
Childcare agencies are also required to develop a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) to ensure that essential functions continue to be performed during or resumed rapidly after a disruption of normal activities.
Learn more about developing a Continuity of Operations Plan for your agency in Step 3: Prepare Your Organization.
Staff Training Requirements
Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 - All child care providers are required to complete training in 11 health & safety topics by September 30, 2017. All new employees hired after September 30, 2017, must complete the training within 90 days.
All staff are now required to have training on the below topics:
- First Aid and CPR
- Prevention and control of infectious diseases (including immunization)
- Prevention of sudden infant death syndrome and use of safe sleeping practices (Required, if staff are working in a program licensed to care for children younger than 18 months of age)
- Administration of medication, consistent with standards for parental consent
- Prevention of and response to emergencies due to food and allergic reactions
- Building and physical premises safety, including identification of and protection from hazards
- Emergency preparedness and response planning for emergencies resulting from a natural disaster, or a man-caused event
- Prevention of shaken baby syndrome and abusive head trauma
- Handling and storage of hazardous materials and appropriate disposal of bio-contaminants
- Precautions in transporting children (if applicable) (Required of all staff working in a program that transports children or accompanies the children in vehicles provided by companies contracted by the program to provide transportation)
- Recognition and reporting of child abuse and neglect
The Child Development Bureau and the Child Care Licensing Unit offers a free web-based NH Health & Safety Training Program that will help child care providers to meet the requirements of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014. Click here to access the training program.
Programs are required to practice at least two components of their agency's Emergency Operations Plan with all staff and children at least twice annually. This could include a test of one or more of the 7 Response Actions from above or a policy or procedure outlined in the Continuity of Operations Plan.
More information will be provided on training and exercise requirements in Step 4: Practice Your Plan
The New Hampshire HSEM has also developed Effective Solutions for Increased Security in NH Public Schools to help guide schools to implementing effective mitigation strategies that increase physical security. Review the solutions guide to better understand your facility's vulnerabilities and how to mitigate the effects of an incident. Many of these enhancements can be proposed after a walk-through of your facility. Remember: No number of locks or cameras will replace a trained staff and comprehensive emergency plan!
Floor Plans: Up-to-date floor plans are crucial information that should be available to police, fire, and childcare leadership in case of an emergency. The availability of these floor plans will help enhance the capabilities of officials to assess and respond to threats in the school building. Updated copies of the floor plans to be quickly available to public safety. Contact us to ensure digital copies are available at Police and Fire Dispatch.
Door and Window Labeling: As an additional safety feature, exterior doors and windows at childcare facilities should be clearly numbered on both the inside and outside for easy identification. The State of NH provides guidance on best practices for door and window labeling.
Bomb Threats: Many questions come up about the appropriate response to a bomb threat. Beyond implementing the Scan Response Action, the State of NH has developed a resource to provide suggestions on how to best work with law enforcement to respond to this type of threat. The US Department of Homeland Security has also developed a phone checklist and guidance on bomb threat best practices.
Informing Parents & Guardians: It is essential to educate parents & guardians on their role during an emergency at the childcare center. Some essential include information on how they will receive information about the emergency situation, how the childcare plans on responding, where students will be taken during an evacuation, and how parents/guardians can assist. The Nashua School District has developed a brochure in English and Spanish to distribute to parents/guardians once per year and when new students enter the system. While this won't handle all instances of parents/guardians calling or arriving at the school during an emergency, it will help to reduce the impact.
Establish Agreements: Waiting to determine where you're sending your students during in the middle of an evacuation is not the best approach to an effective emergency plan. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) should be established between your childcare and other facilities to serve as off site evacuation & reunification sites. Our recommendation is to identify at least one location within walking distance of your center, and to utilize Nashua High School South and North as options for longer term evacuation sites. Both High Schools can separate the Athletic Wing from the remainder of the school and have the necessary logistical requirements to set up a reunification site. The Office of Emergency Management can facilitate an Memorandum of Understanding between your center and the Nashua School District for emergency relocation. Contact us to find out more information. Feel free to use our template MOU as a starting point in your efforts to set up agreements with evacuation sites across the City.
Consult with local emergency responders and officials to ensure your childcare center's plans are realistic and feasible. Contact us for assistance as you update your plan.
After you have developed a comprehensive emergency plan, it is essential to train your staff on their role. See the Childcare Training Resources page for free online training opportunities.
The US Department of Education Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) is an extensive resource of trainings, templates, and guides. Two resources worth checking out include the Toolbox of Templates and the Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans.
If you are looking for resources in the development of your childcare emergency plan, the FEMA Multi-Hazard Emergency Planning for Schools Toolkit can help. The website contains example procedures and guides for all phases of an emergency.
Our neighbors in Massachusetts have made a lot of progress in implementing the School Threat Assessment and Response System (STARS Toolkit). This toolkit contains a framework for developing School Crisis Response Teams and contains editable procedures that can fit within your emergency plan as needed.