Child care settings must safeguard each child in care. All staff should be prepared to deal with any emergency that may happen during child care in order to minimize the effects of such events. Regular practice of emergency drills is essential to that responsibility and promotes calm, competent use of plans in an emergency such turnover of both staff and children, in addition to the changes in developmental abilities of children who participate in frequent practice drills critical.
Procedure and Practices including responsible person(s). Director, Teaching Staff, should at least monthly initiate an Emergency Evacuation Drill which will include all children in care, all staff, and any other person who may be on the premises at the time. All drills will be conducted as if there were a real emergency taking place.
At least once a year Kidz Go Eco shall have a representative of local emergency or Disaster Planning Services observe a drill, and seek input for possible improvements to the facility’s procedures, including the education of all children in care on what to do in the different crisis situations. Such input shall be taken into account during the annual review of this policy.
Following every Emergency Evacuation Drill, Kidz Go Eco shall complete an entry regarding the drill on the Emergency Evacuations Drill Log. Any problems or errors occurring during each drill will be noted, addressed, and corrected immediately.
When this policy applies:
At varied times and places, using all building exits, and during all types of activities (meals and nap times included) and weather conditions, throughout the year while child care is being provided.
What this Emergency Preparedness Policy Includes:
- Communication with Parents
- Emergency Closures
- Emergency Management Plan
- Code Green/Evacuation
- Evacuation Procedures
- Parent Reunification
- Protecting Vulnerable Children in a Crisis
- Emergency “Missing Child”
- Medical Emergencies/Accidents
- Fire Drills
- Code Red /Lock Down / Safe Place Plan
- Emergency Transport Permission Agreement (Form is Signed in Enrollment Packet)
- Emergency Drills/ Procedure Checklist
- Providing Support After a Crisis
- Recovery From the Emergency
- Providing Emotional Support To Children After Trauma
- Ways Caregivers Know How To Help After A Traumatic Event
- Covid-19 Protocols and Procedures
After the Emergency
After the emergency is the time to REAP the benefits: Recover, Evaluate, and Plan.
Recovery means to return to normal operations. This may be a long-term process depending on the damages incurred. However, it is important to get back up and running as quickly as possible. We would need to be aware of the physical and mental health and safety of children and staff.
We put a lot of time and thought into preparing for an emergency. Now that we would have survived one, we would evaluate how our plan actually worked, and what would work better next time.
We would meet with our original planning partners and assess how each step in the plan worked for children, parents, staff, and local emergency officials.
Now is the time to plan for the next emergency.
- We would update and revise our emergency plan if our evaluation shows the need.
- We would restock the emergency supplies you used.
- We would involve parents in the planning process to update communications, reunification, and contact information.
- We would continue to stress that family preparedness is the best way to plan for the next emergency!
Code Green/Evacuation Plan
As soon as any staff member becomes aware of any situation with the potential for significant violence (bomb threat), or any unsafe situation that would result in an evacuation, the staff member shall immediately notify the Director and Lead Teachers by the fastest means possible (phone, radio, direct contact) and isolate the incident.
- Signal and announce evacuation: Code GREEN
- Emergency Kits/Emergency Information will be taken when the safety of children is not compromised.
- All children are safely evacuated; in case of the need to evacuate children through windows, children will be placed out of windows first, using any items available to place on ground.
- Call 911, identify yourself, identify crisis P.D. 284-4535 or F.D. 282-3244
- Take attendance to make sure all children are accounted for.
- Contact evacuation sites (Neighborhood, Out-of-Neighborhood, Out-of-Town)
- Parents will be notified of the evacuation
- Announcements will be made when possible on radio/tv/phone
- Transportation to evacuation locations, children will walk/be pushed in portable play yards, strollers, or children will be driven by all staff members in a crisis. All transportation safety measures will be taken to the best of our ability, but getting children to safety is our priority.
Walk all children to Kidz Go Eco playground by the EcoAvocado Trail (nature path). Teachers lead all children to evacuation destinations.
40 Flag Pond Rd.
Saco, ME 04072
36 Tasker St.
Saco, ME 04072
YMCA of Southern Maine-Biddeford
3 Pomerleau St.
Biddeford, ME 04005
Saco Bus Transportation: 284-5959
SBT has offered to re-locate our children to these evacuation sites in the event of an emergency; if their buses are available.
Evacuation Response Assignments:
- Red Emergency Crisis Binder & Emergency Number Binder: Lead Teachers
- Medical Bag & Epi Pen Bag: Teacher Assistants
- Activity Bag: Located in garage, a teacher can grab last after everyone is evacuated
Reunification is the process of reuniting children with their parent, guardian, or other person listed on the emergency pick-up list. Reunification is conducted after an emergency disrupts the normal dismissal process and regular dismissal procedures cannot be followed. Parents/guardians will be directed by KGE or public officials by phone, tv, radio, website, or other social media as soon as it’s SAFE.
- Parents/guardians will be provided information to evacuation site.
- Contact information for Director Miss Michelle 229-6440 (cell phone)
- Parent/guardian phone numbers are stored in Director’s cell phone, located in outside emergency bag and Emergency Contact Binder.
Children will only be released to parents/guardians and to emergency contacts on pick-up list (proper identification will be needed).
CODE RED/Lockdown/Safe Place Plan
Our mission is to provide a safe child care and preschool for our children, employees, and volunteers. Code Red outlines a procedure that is employed in the event that an intruder attempts to invoke harm to children, staff and volunteers at Kidz Go Eco.
How to Respond:
The first person that is aware of the situation, immediately directs nearby children/staff into their classroom or work areas that can be locked and then notifies the Director by phone, radio, cellphone, etc.
The Director or designated staff member announces “Code Red”. This will signal the activation of a LOCKDOWN. Director or designated staff member notifies police by calling 911 or direct line 284-4535 for police department.
- If doors are open, bring all children inside, lock all doors, and quickly move to SAFE PLACE ROOM.
- LOCK all doors to safe place room, close all windows, draw all shades, close all lights.
- Children, staff and visitors should remain in safe area away from windows and doors without talking until lockdown has concluded.
- Staff can use shelving, bookcase or any other heavy furniture to put in front of locked door to add additional barrier.
- Staff should take attendance to account for all students.
- Keep children calm.
- If any children or staff member is unaccounted for, notify the Director or other designated staff member upon completion of lockdown.
- If a staff member was helping a child in the bathroom, we ask that the staff member tries to help the child and themselves and move quickly to the safe place room or to remain quietly in the bathroom with door shut until it is safe for them to exit.
- If children and staff members are on the playground and hear “Code Red”, we ask that staff gather children and assemble them behind the playground apparatus. Staff will stay with children until the “all clear signal” directive is given.
* In the event of a CODE RED/Lockdown/Safe Place Plan we will use the nationally accepted “RED BIRD PLAN” for our children. This plan has been used successfully for many years as a way of preparing children for dangerous situations in a developmentally appropriate way.
The classroom has a place designated as the RED BIRD NEST. The phrase “RED BIRDS FLY TO YOUR NEST” is the signal for children and teachers to go to the designated area. We will remain there until all clear signal is given. We will have a cellphone or landline, red emergency binder, lockdown kit is stored in room for water/snacks, porta-potty, doors will be locked in the room, shades will be drawn, attendance will be taken, and everyone will be crowded and a bit uncomfortable, but safe. All emergency numbers are located in lockdown kit as well. The plan is used as preventative and proactive response to anticipated emergencies. Due to the unpredictable nature of these types of situations, no guarantee of safety shall be implied through the use of the RED BIRD PLAN. However, the regular practice and training of staff will be a step in response to dangerous or threatening situations. We hope, as you do, to never have to use this plan in a real situation.
Emergency Supplies/Lockdown Kit:
In a short-term 72 hour emergency, we have supplies in eight basic categories that are stored in a large sturdy container called our “Lockdown Kit”:
- Important papers, emergency contact list
- Water (information on how to safely store water can be found in Appendix C)
- First Aid
- Comfort and Safety
Communication plan for parents
Parents In Case of School Emergency:
- We will make sure that parents know children are safe, what the nature of the emergency is, any changes in our relocation plan, or schedule if communication is available to us.
- Parents that have children with special needs or infants will be called first.
- Although your first reaction would be to call or rush to your child, please follow the tips listed below:
- Do not call or rush to your child’s child care or preschool. Phone lines and staff are needed for emergency response efforts.
- Tune in to the local TV/radio stations for official news alerts.
- Check KGE’s website, social media sites for updates.
- Rely only on official communication from child care/preschool or public safety officials.
- Listen for official communication regarding reunification with your child.
- All parents will receive a copy of this policy in this Parent Handbook upon their child’s enrollment. Written notification will be given of any updates.
- A copy of the Emergency Evacuation Drills Log will be posted where parents and staff can see Evacuation Drill Log.
- Staff and volunteers will receive a written copy of this policy in their Orientation Packets before beginning work.
There will be times when it is not safe for the children to come to the child care program, such as severe weather or power outages that occur before you open for the day, or the children may being the day at the child care program and then it becomes unsafe to stay due to an emergency situation. In order to reduce confusion when closing, it is important to have an emergency closing plan with which everyone is familiar. The Director will make the decision, then director and teaching staff will create a telephone tree to start reaching out to families as soon as possible using our emergency contact list that families provide us. We will take into consideration when it’s most wisest to close, such as listening to road reports, listening for severe weather updates, watching for local school closings, and monitor for any other local emergency situations.
Emergency Closure – COVID-19 Protocols & Procedures
Subject to change as pandemic resolves or changes
There is no guarantee that anyplace, especially a childcare environment is perfectly safe from COVID-19. The risks of contracting and spreading COVID-19 are well documented and we trust all of our matriculated families to make the best choice for their child in terms of attending our program. We are endeavoring to do what we can to mitigate the risks as much as possible, acknowledging that we cannot eliminate all risk. In order to succeed we will commit to efforts that minimize exposure and spread of the virus and will need your cooperation, commitment, and partnership now more than ever.
Kidz Go Eco will:
- Stay current with and follow the guidelines and recommendations issued by the CDC and Governor Mills regarding early childhood centers wherever practical and appropriate.
- Aim to inform families of changes to expect at camp with as much notice as possible.
- Train all employees on updated health, cleaning, and safety protocols.
- Redesign our schedule, program, procedures, and center to isolate smaller groups of students in order to reduce exposure to others. We are redesigning programs to include drop off and pick ups outside whenever possible, social distancing between classes to mitigate risks.
- MASK use at childcare is MANDATED for children 5 years and older and is recommended for all children 2 years and older. If your child has asthma, a medical condition, or is unable to tolerate a face shield or a mask, a note provided by the parent or a physician’s note will be required explaining the condition and that you’re aware of the increased risk of exposure to Covid-19.
- Sanitize facilities on a scheduled basis using methods recommended by appropriate authorities.
- Maintain hand washing, sanitizing, and routinely practice hand washing with children. We will educate children on maintaining their individual health in age appropriate ways.
- Creatively use interior and outdoor spaces to maximize health as well as foster a positive learning environment.
- Monitor your child’s health. Stay home if you, your child or anyone in your household feels sick. Take your child’s temperature daily and observe for symptoms of COVID-19. Communicate with us if your child has symptoms or has been exposed to someone who has symptoms or has been diagnosed.
- Reduce your child’s exposure by maintaining social distancing when not at kidz go eco. If we can all make a commitment to minimize exposure to others we can collectively keep children attending our programs safer.
- Stay on top of new procedures and policies issued by Kidz Go Eco. . We fully expect that conditions will change as we go and we will all need to remain flexible and responsive. Please read all communications and make changes as necessary.
- Follow the current Executive Order to quarantine for 14 days after traveling out of state.
- Reinforce at home proper self care and health measures with your child(ren).
- Check with your child’s pediatrician if you have any concerns about their ability to participate in childcare safely regarding other personal health conditions. Parents will also communicate pertinent health concerns to the Education Director of Programming as applicable.
We cannot eliminate all risk, but we are taking reasonable steps to mitigate it. With your help, we can enable a rewarding, fun, and educational summer experience for young people through the adoption of sensible measures. If we must make any adjustments or additional changes to our programs we will notify you with as much notice as possible. As this is a fluid situation, we appreciate your patience and understanding as we implement new policies and procedures.
- All of these policies and procedures are subject to change
- Staff discretion responding to conditions in the moment may take precedence over any of the policies.
- Staff may implement more restrictive measures but not less restrictive conditions than those outlined below.
- These increased safety measures and program changes serve to mitigate risk and to increase the safety of our children and staff. No guarantee of safety is being made or implied with the following procedures and policies. We can only endeavor to mitigate risks when and where practicable.
Advisory for Children and Parents with Health Concerns
Children and Parents at high risk for COVID-19 should consult with their medical provider to determine if having your child attend is a reasonably safe option. Some high risks include but are not limited to:
- People with lung disease or asthma
- People who have serious heart conditions
- People who are immune-compromised
- People with severe obesity
- People with diabetes
- People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
- People with liver disease
- At the beginning of each day parents will be asked to sign a Child Health Questionnaire Form which outlines health questions, expectations, and guidelines.
- Take their child’s temperature before arriving to kge each day and closely monitor for symptoms of COVID-19- if your child has a temperature prior to starting childcare, please keep your child home and contact the Education Director. Screen for symptoms of COVID-19
- Adhere to the 14 day Quarantine if you travel out of state to areas or states that the CDC has listed to self-quarantine.
- Be prepared to pick your child up promptly from childcare if your child develops symptoms.
- Be prepared with a back-up plan for care should our childcare needs to close at any time.
- Determine if your child has contact with a person who has been diagnosed with, tested for, or quarantined as a result of COVID-19
- If your child has ANY symptom on the CDC list for Covid-19 your family needs to be prepared that every time your child exhibits ANY symptom a pediatricians note will need to be provided stating it’s safe for your child to return, a negative covid-19 test has been provided, or your child quarantines for 14 days.
Once Childcare/Preschool/Summer Program Begins
If you drop off your child at childcare, it means you are agreeing to our guidelines and have confirmed to the best of your ability that:
- You or anyone in your household have not traveled outside the country in the past month.
- You have not come into contact with anyone who has tested positive with COVID-19.
- No one in your household is experiencing signs of illness.
- Your child does not have the following symptoms (based on CDC) at drop off:
- Fever (above 100.4 by any route) or chills
- Shortness of breath or a cough
- Excessive fatigue or difficulty breathing (without recent physical activity)
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Masks (“masks” could also include a face shield or other protective covering)
Children are required to wear a mask based on the guidelines for childcares at this time, but this is subject to change. Again, children 5 years and older are required to wear a face mask or shield unless providing a parent or doctors note explaining why your child is unable to wear one. This could be a health condition like asthma, anxiety, or an intolerance of any kind. Parents of children 2 years -4 years are recommended to have your child wear a mask or face shield. If you would like your child (2 years old-4 years old) to wear a mask at childcare, please let your child’s educators know and they will honor that request unless they observe signs that your child cannot safely wear a mask. We encourage all families to practice wearing masks with their children at home in advance of attending childcare. Here are some resources to help guide parents:
Whenever practicable we will endeavor to maintain social distancing. That said due to the nature of preschool, childcare settings, and children’s behavior this will be impossible to maintain 100% of the time.
Our classrooms will consist of 10-12 children and will not mix between classrooms unless we have an emergency or have a shortage of educators. We do have children from the same family in each age group so maintaining a complete separation between classrooms is not always possible. Within our classrooms social distancing will be impractical. We will be spending as much time outdoors as possible and in consideration of inclement weather days when we may be inside utilizing designated classrooms for your child. We will limit the use of supplies and equipment by one group of children at a time and clean and disinfect between use as needed.
Our program will restrict all nonessential visitors, volunteers, and activities involving other individuals or groups. We will minimize any use of floating teachers between classrooms whenever possible but will utilize them when the need is emergent.
Drop Off and Pick Up
To make drop off and pick up times as efficient and safe as possible, we ask that parents to say goodbye to their child at the entrance if drop off is inside or on the playground with an educator if drop off is outside. To maintain social distance from other parents and children we ask that parents look inside your child’s classroom to make sure only 2 individuals are in the locker area at one time. Please maintain 6ft social distance from other family members. Parents may walk their child to the appropriate classroom (wearing a mask) to check your child in. Defined areas at KGE will be designated as specific drop off and pick up locations depending on what classroom you are in.
Kidz Go Eco will endeavor to restrict all non essential visitors and others from accessing the buildings. We have moved mail and package delivery outside of the building and will work with all vendors and service contracts to ensure safe practices. Parents should refrain from entering buildings as much as possible and are required to wear a mask if needing to enter any classroom.
Self care practices will be heavily emphasized and enforced throughout the day.
Children will be instructed in the way the CDC recommends hand washing and that is age appropriate for the children attending. The importance of hand washing before and after eating, after touching frequently touched surfaces and items, after using the restroom, and after sneezing/coughing/blowing nose will be reinforced.
Communal spaces will be cleaned and disinfected at least daily. Measures will be taken to clean some areas multiple times of day if needed. Spaces shared by other groups of children will be cleaned between use when practical. Equipment will also be cleaned between groups of children. Emphasis will be on sanitizing frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, railings, and light switches, children’s lockers, and fridge where lunch boxes are stored.
Water play is an important way children can keep cool and have fun during the summer. It appears that COVID-19 is not waterborne and that water play activities pose little risk for children. Parents should expect that their children will play with sprinklers, and have opportunities for some sensory table play in the younger groups. Children are not required to wear masks while playing in the sprinklers.
Children will not utilize small wade pools, but will provide fun water play activities such as sprinkler play, use of the water hose, stream and wetland play, and soapy bubble water tables. We will provide these opportunities in smaller groups to allow for more organic space and distance during this play and will limit the amount of children at a water table at any one time along with proper supervision.
Times on the playground will be staggered between classrooms and the playground apparatus will be washed regularly.
Monitoring Health Conditions
As outlined in the parent expectations section, parents will need to monitor their own child’s temperature and symptoms of COVID-19 and immediately report concerns to Kidz Go Eco.
Many symptoms consistent with COVID-19, such as fever, are normal illnesses children would suffer in a normal preschool year. This year our threshold for letting kids stay for the day will not be allowed. Out of an abundance of caution, children will be sent home if they have the following:
- Fever (above 100.4 by any route) or chills
- Shortness of breath or a cough
- Excessive fatigue or difficulty breathing (without recent physical activity)
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Children exhibiting any of these symptoms will wait in a designated isolated area until they can be picked up. Children may return to childcare/preschool if:
- Your child’s symptoms have subsided for at least 24 hours from when they began and have provided a physician’s note stating your child is safe to return.
- Your child has received a negative Covid-19 test.
- Your child has quarantined for 14 days.
Many people, children especially, do not show obvious signs of COVID-19. While we will diligently monitor the health of our children, we will not be able to detect all cases of COVID-19.
If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a classroom, a plan is in place to:
- Close off and disinfect the areas where that student or staff member frequented
- Notify local and state health officials and work with them regarding appropriate communications and procedures while maintaining confidentiality
- A child, parent, or staff member diagnosed with COVID-19 will need to stay home, self-monitor for symptoms and follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.
Emergency Drills and Procedures Checklist Include
- Plan the drill
- Talk the drill
- Walk the drill
- Run the drill
- Evaluate the drill
Emergency “Missing Child”
- Teaching staff immediately conduct a thorough search of the immediate surroundings.
- Call 911 or Emergency Number
- Notify parents
- The Department of Human Services/Licensing Regulations will also be notified.
Emergency Transportation Permission Agreement
Parents will have an Emergency Transportation Permission Agreement Form inside their child’s enrollment packet giving KGE permission to have staff and teachers transport your child to an emergency relocation site if children were unsafe and couldn’t remain at the child care facility. Parents will need to understand that normal safety rules will be followed as much as possible, but the highest priority is to relocate to a safe location.
We hold fire drills once a month in order to prepare for emergency evacuations. Children are escorted out either the main entrance or by alternative exit needed to evacuate safely. In case of a split group we meet in the far corner of the property by the EcoAvocado Trail Head, Eco Creek Trail Head, or by the playground. The educators will assess where the safest place to evacuate children. At the time of evacuation, an educator from each classroom will take their red emergency binder, emergency contact list binder, emergency medical bag with epi-pens and inhalers, first aid kit, the land-line phone or cellphone, and makes sure everyone is accounted for by taking attendance. In the event of a real fire or disaster, children will be taken to an off-site location or wherever instructed by Public Safety Personnel. Parents will be notified immediately or as soon as it is safe to do so.
All educators and staff at KGE are trained in infant/child CPR and first aid. All accidents or injuries requiring more first aid such as a band-aid or ice pack will be reported on an Accident Report Form. Parents are required to read, sign, and return form to your child’s teacher. Minor scrapes will be cleaned with soap and water, bruises and bumps treated with ice. Immediate care for more serious injuries will be referred to our child care Health Consultant or Rescue 911 will be called to transport a seriously injured child. Parents or their emergency contacts (in the event the parents cannot be reached) will be notified.
Please make sure your emergency phone numbers are up-to-date. You MUST have an alternative adult who can pick up your child if you cannot be reached. Parents must make arrangements to pick up a sick or injured child within a half hour. If your child is transported by rescue and 911 is called, we ask parents to fill out an Emergency Consent Form, which is in the enrollment packet.
To help prevent medical emergencies teaching staff:
- Make sure the play area is free of hazards.
- Supervise children closely at all times.
- Keep toxins and hazardous materials where children cannot see or reach them.
- Have a cell phone or landline when outside or on a field trip.
- Make sure that the first aid kit is well-equipped at all times.
- Employees are first aid and CPR certified.
- Have emergency numbers posted at all times in outdoor emergency kit and inside classrooms.
- Know how to respond to allergic reactions, including food allergies and bee stings.
Providing Emotional Support to Children After a Trauma
Young children, toddlers, and preschoolers know when bad things happen, and respond to emergency events with limited understanding or are unable to talk about their needs. As the people, places and routines they depend on for safety and care are affected, children need help. The better prepared that caregivers are, the more helpful they can be to others around them, especially children.
Children depend physically and emotionally on their caregivers. Children’s reactions depend on their age and how close they were to an upsetting event; their exposure to watching TV or hearing radio reports, and how they see their caregivers reacting. During an emergency, young children need their caregivers to know how to respond, including where to go, what to do, things to take and how to reunite them with their family. Children need help as they don’t fully understand how to keep themselves safe. Young children may freeze, cry or scream. Mental stress from a crisis event can be harder on children as they feel less in control, and have less experience in bouncing back from hard situations.
After a scary event, we often see changes in children’s behavior. Preschool children may feel helpless, upset or frightened about being separated from their parent or caregiver. They may develop aches and pains, such as stomach or headaches. It is common for preschool children to become clingy with a caregiver or need to stay in a place they feel is safe. They may fear strangers, darkness or monsters. They may cry more, have temper tantrums, withdraw from people and not play with their toys, hit others, have problems sleeping or bedwetting, become afraid of the dark or things that did not bother them before, or lose skills they previously had. These changes are a sign that they need extra help.
In most children, these common changes will be temporary. Children who were directly exposed to a disaster or have special needs can become upset again and these changes may resurface if they see or hear reminders about what happened. If they continue to be very upset, if their behaviors hurt their activities or important relationships after six weeks, then a referral to a professional provider who specializes in children’s needs may be appropriate.
In the event we had to create a “Shelter-in-Place Plan” we would seal the room with duct tape, close and lock all doors and windows to the outside. Turn off all heating systems by heating control panel, turn off all air conditioners, and switch intakes to the closed position. We would turn off exhaust fans in bathroom, seal gaps around window-type air conditions with duct tape, close as many internal doors as possible, and supplies for sealing out air such as duct tape is located in the tape drawer in Atelier Room/Tape Drawer.
We would use tape and plastic food wrapping, wax paper or aluminum wrap to cover bathroom exhausts, grilles, range vents, dryer vents, and other openings to the extent possible. We would seal any obvious gaps around external windows and doors. Close shades for additional protection. Water and clothes located in red emergency lockdown kit. If vapors begin to bother the staff and children, hold wet cloths or handkerchiefs over the nose and mouth of children and staff. We will access emergency supplies for snacks and activities if needed.
If children are on the premises in the event of severe weather, we will proceed to the Safe Place Room inside KGE facility. A teacher will take the red emergency binder with emergency numbers, a landline or cellphone, the first aid kit, epi-pen bag, and move all children to the Safe Place Room that has our lockdown kit and snacks and water. Attendance will be taken and parents will be notified immediately or as soon as it is safe to do so.
Ways Caregivers Know How to Help After a Traumatic Event
The young child feels safe when:
Focus on safety first:
- Hold them more and let them stay close to you.
- Return to a regular routine to help them make sense of their surroundings and feel comforted.
- Do familiar things like singing a song or telling a story.
- Increase time with others. Children who get support from others cope better after emergencies.
Follow the child’s lead:
- Listen and observe. Having a story helps a child make sense of what happened and cope.
- Different children need different things. Some children need to run around and need extra breaks while others may need to be held more during cuddle times.
- It can be hard to watch or listen to their stories. Caregivers need to seek support for themselves so they can listen without becoming upset.
Allow children to express their feelings and worries:
- Young children can “behave badly” or “act out” when they are scared as a way of asking for help.
- Help them name how they feel about their worry over their safety or the safety of others, including pets.
- Help them express anger in ways that won’t hurt by using words, pictures, play-time or drawings.
- Children use play or particular activities to tell their story so allow them to stop when it becomes difficult or distressing.
Help them reconnect with supportive people, community, culture and rituals:
- Simple things like a familiar story, a song, a prayer or tradition helps a child return to a “new normal”.
- Provide handouts to families about expected and predictable behaviors in young children.
- Allow parents to be with their children in your home or child care center.
- Tell children about community recovery. Reassure them that many people are working hard to restore electricity, phones, water or heat.
Offer them support and acceptance:
- Reassure them that they are safe. You may need to repeat this frequently.
- If a child feels really bad, it is a good time to seek out parents or particular teachers to help them feel better and calmer.
- Don’t punish them for “regressive” behaviors (nightmares, bedwetting, physical complaints); set limits but reassure them they are safe.
- Replace lost or damaged toys, and offer items they can touch or hold such as blankets, books or stuffed animals.
- Ask parents to provide something familiar such as a family photo while they are separated.
Just being with children even when we can’t fix things, helps!