Wisconsin Department of Children and Families

Protecting Children, Strengthening Families, Building Communities

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Emergency Preparedness and Response in Child Care

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Is your child care program prepared to respond in an emergency?

The process of developing and maintaining emergency plans, and regularly reviewing and practicing of those plans, makes it more likely your child care program and staff will be equipped to protect children when a disaster strikes. The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act requires states to establish health and safety standards that protect children in the event of an emergency. This page is intended to assist child care providers in the development of emergency preparedness and response plans that comply with state health and safety standards.

 

Emergency Preparedness and Response Rules

In Wisconsin, emergencies are often associated with weather events such as ice storms, snow storms, tornadoes and floods. Other types of emergencies that may impact child care programs include, but are not limited to, fires, electrical outages, vehicle accidents, allergic reactions, and threats to the building or its occupants.

Wisconsin’s child care regulations require child care providers to have emergency plans and procedures in place. The resources available to you on the Emergency Preparedness and Response page are meant to provide you with additional ways to assist you in your planning for, response to and recovery after an emergency.

Wisconsin Child Care Rules and Regulations

Licensing 

An Abbreviated Summary of Licensing Emergency-Related Rules for Licensed Providers:

  • An Emergency is defined as an unforeseen circumstance that requires immediate action such as fire, tornado, flood, extreme outdoor heat or cold; loss of building services including no heat, water electricity or telephone; threats to the building or its occupants, lost or missing child; or a circumstance such as a medical emergency, illness or other situation requiring immediate attention that may be disruptive to a child or children in care.
  • Providers must:
    • Develop and implement written policies and procedures that address contingency plans to be followed in the event of a fire, tornado, missing child or other emergency.
    • Review emergency procedures during orientation with all new employees and substitutes.
    • Provide child care workers training on techniques for evacuating sleeping children in an emergency.
    • Post an evacuation plan and practice the plan monthly. Make sure other staff/caregivers know what their duties are if there is a fire, tornado, missing child or other emergency.
    • Develop and implement transportation policies that include a procedure for tracking children during an emergency and include emergency contact information in vehicles.
    • Maintain staff and child records/files that include emergency contact information.
    • Identify emergency backup provider/contact person.
    • Have a working phone and post emergency numbers
  • Children’s records shall include written consent from the parent for emergency medical care or treatment.
  • All employees in regular contact with children shall obtain and maintain a current certificate of completion for infant and child cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED).
  • Centers operating during hours of darkness shall provide emergency lighting, such as an operable flashlight.

For more information, see the child care licensing rules page.

Certification

An Abbreviated Summary of Certification Emergency-Related Rules for Certified Operators:

  • An Emergency is defined as an unforeseen circumstance that calls for immediate action such as a fire, tornado, flood, extreme outdoor heat or cold; loss of building services including no heat, water electricity or telephone; threat to the building or its occupants, lost or missing child; or a circumstance such as a medical emergency, illness or other situation requiring immediate attention that may be disruptive to a child or children in care.
  • The home shall have at least one telephone in working order with a list of emergency numbers posted by each telephone.
  • The certified child care operator shall have a designated adult who can provide assistance in the event an unexpected emergency.
  • The certified child care operator must use a child enrollment form that includes parents’ signed consent for emergency medical care and emergency contact information.

For more information, see the child care certification rules page.

Prepare

Consider how you will prepare for and respond to emergencies and natural disasters. Ensure you have procedures in place to address natural disasters and other emergencies, including acts of violence, exposure to hazardous agents, facility damage, fire, missing children, power outage and other situations requiring evacuation, shelter or lockdown. Creating an emergency response plan before the emergency occurs helps make the response procedure quicker and more efficient.

  • Caring for Our Children - A collection of national standards that represent best practices for health and safety policies for early care and education settings.
  • Child Care Aware - Provides links to emergency preparedness webinars, resources, drill checklists, forms/templates and other emergency preparedness tools.
  • Head Start Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center - Provides a list of resources child care programs can use in developing their emergency preparedness plans/manuals.

Resource Guides

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has compiled information on how to plan for and respond to natural and weather related disasters including flooding, tornadoes, extreme heat, winter weather and much more. 

Response

Your ability to respond to an emergency is directly related to your preparedness. It is critical you develop an emergency response plan in advance. Once you’ve developed emergency plans, it’s time to practice. The more you prepare and practice your emergency plan, the more efficient your response will be. Identify the type of threat and the kind of response needed to protect staff and children in care.

Recovery

What actions will you take from the time the emergency ends until the needs of staff, children and families are met? What will you do to help families resume their daily activities and help those affected cope with the aftermath of an emergency? Recovery can last for days, months or even years. Incorporating recovery resources into your emergency-preparedness plan will help you reach your goals more quickly. Things to consider include reunification, damage and needs assessment, continuation of services, and mental health/emotional needs.

Emergencies Due to Food and Allergic Reactions

The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 includes provisions related to the prevention of and response to emergencies due to food and allergic reactions. Do you have a written care plan for children with food allergies? Are your staff trained in recognizing the symptoms of and treating an allergic reaction? Do you have procedures in place for preventing exposure to specific foods to which a child (or staff) is allergic? Your emergency supply kit probably includes items such as first aid supplies, hygiene/sanitary supplies, children’s emergency contact information, but does it also contain bottled water, snacks, formula?

Video, Webinars and Other Media Resources

Helpful Online Resources

Mobile Apps
Check your app store for a variety of apps that can be used on your mobile device to plan for and respond to emergencies and disasters in your area.
Some examples are:

Step-by-Step Guides and Manuals

Additional Resources

Emergency Preparedness in the News