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Effective Emergency Plan Tips for Daycare Providers (+ Free Emergency Contact Form Template)

Daycare emergency contact forms are key for preschool emergency plans. Learn valuable tips and download a free printable emergency contact form template (PDF).

Effective Emergency Plan Tips for Daycare Providers (+ Free Emergency Contact Form Template)

Effective Emergency Plan Tips for Daycare Providers

Emergencies happen. And when they do, preparedness is the key to handling them well.

Families trust childcare providers to not only look after their children and ensure they’re safe but also keep them informed when harm occurs or becomes a threat.

Having daycare emergency contact forms on hand is mission-critical for childcare centers and preschools. Whether the daycare emergency is due to natural, technological, biological, or manufactured causes, your thoughtful planning can both minimize trauma and keep your children's emergency contacts informed about the situation.

In this article, we’ll share a practical guide to creating an effective emergency form for your daycare and the best ways to communicate with a child’s emergency contact. 

Why is an emergency form for a daycare necessary?

Emergency contact forms are critical because they:

  • Reduce stress by organizing contact details in one place
  • Minimize trauma for both children and staff
  • Inform children’s emergency contacts promptly

With the proper training, your childcare staff can use daycare emergency contact forms as part of your larger emergency action plan.

What information goes on a daycare emergency contact form?

A daycare emergency contact form is only as useful as the information on it. Therefore, to be helpful in a crisis, each emergency contact form template should always include the four components below:

  1. 1. The child’s information

Having a child’s name and date of birth on a daycare emergency contact form can significantly help in a crisis. You can also list the child’s current age and weight, which may be helpful information for healthcare providers in a medical emergency.

  1. 2. The parent or guardian’s information

List the names and contact information for each child’s parent or guardian. Remind parents to list all phone numbers available to them, including a work phone number, if applicable.

  1. 3. Emergency contacts & other authorizations

In addition to parent/guardian information, include other emergency contacts that may be available during the day. You’ll need parents to add the names and phone numbers of any other emergency contacts and ask for permission to contact them in the event of an emergency.

  1. 4. Medical information

An emergency is the worst time to wonder whether a child has certain allergies or health conditions. Therefore, always include a section for the child’s known allergies and other health concerns.

  1. 5. Physician information

Including a section for the child’s physician’s name and contact information is extremely helpful in a medical emergency because it allows daycare staff and healthcare practitioners to respond quickly and get answers to medical questions.

Duplicate and properly store emergency contact forms

After you’ve sent families a printable emergency contact form, remember to make a copy of it after they’ve filled it out and returned it.

During or after an emergency, it’s helpful to have the document in multiple locations and available digitally. If your facility gets damaged or evacuated, you will need more than one way to access the emergency contact forms.

If your center uses early childhood education software, you can easily store multiple copies of your emergency contact forms and access them digitally, If the software has a mobile option, make sure you familiarize yourself with accessing emergency contact forms digitally before an emergency occurs.

Electronic management systems also ensure that daycare emergency contact forms are readily available to all staff and teachers. When emergency contact forms aren’t accessible in an emergency, it can create dangerous inefficiencies. 

Childcare management software like brightwheel's center management feature allows you to lead well in a crisis. For example, you can access each child’s allergy information from the app's home screen, which saves valuable time if you suspect a child is having a life-threatening allergic reaction.

The nature of emergencies can vary, so your communication approach needs to be adaptable to serve the needs of the children in your care, your staff, and their families. When your daycare emergency contact forms are accessible in multiple places, childcare staff can use them effectively in stressful and urgent situations.

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Different emergencies require different responses

Childcare centers can face various types of emergencies. For example, children can get sick or have accidents, the carbon monoxide alarm can go off, or there could be a severe weather event in your region. Each situation requires a unique response.

Start by assessing the likelihood of certain emergencies at your childcare facility, and then plan for each possible scenario. 

Next, designate roles for teachers and staff. Specify who is in charge of specific actions, such as contacting emergency services or taking a head count.

Also, you may not need to use the emergency contact form to make phone calls for every child regarding every emergency. For example, after two children with high fevers are sent home, you may want to message the rest of your families before the end of the day to let them know about a possible communicable disease.

Or, if everyone is safe after evacuating due to a false carbon monoxide alarm, you might send an emergency message to keep families informed. With brightwheel's communication feature, you can easily send real-time messages or emergency alerts to all families at once.

When the time comes to use the emergency contact forms for center-wide emergencies, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends communicating the following:

  • What happened/is happening (e.g., type of hazard, response actions, and status)
  • Whether all children are accounted for
  • If, when, and where it is safe for guardians to pick up their children
  • What they should bring when reunited with their children (e.g., photo ID)

In every emergency scenario, the AAP urges you to provide information as you have it but do not speculate. Of course, you can always update people with more facts, but quickly correcting misinformation is difficult. 

Consider multiple lines of communication

Depending on the type of emergency, you may experience a disruption of typical communication methods. For example, during a power outage, you may be unable to charge or use your phone. Phone lines may be down, taking the internet with them. 

As part of your larger emergency preparedness plan, consider the following:

  • Social media pages run by your childcare center
  • Online parent groups in which your childcare center is active
  • Mass texts and teacher-parent communication apps, like brightwheel
  • Your facility's main number at which you can leave an outgoing voicemail for worried parents and guardians

Ensure you and your childcare staff know how to alert emergency contacts with alternative communication methods. For example, if your cell phones get left behind, and you need to use social media, your staff needs the log-in information. 

Similarly, make sure you have an emergency kit that any staff member can quickly grab that contains emergency necessities.

Ensure all staff members have an extra cell phone charger, change for pay phones, and the location of the nearest publicly available computers with internet access. 

These safety protocols allow teachers and staff to focus on the most critical step during any childcare emergency—keeping the children safe.

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Connect with emergency contacts after a threat has passed

The first steps in any childcare emergency are always about getting children out of danger. That might mean any of the following:

  • Administering first aid
  • Evacuating a classroom or building
  • Calling 911 or other emergency services
  • Heading to a pre-determined location to shelter in place

 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends designating a person who will reach out to a child’s emergency contacts listed on an emergency contact form after all the necessary steps have been taken to ensure the safety of the child/children in question.

Need help making a plan for your facility? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness provides many resources for early-childhood programs shaping an emergency plan

In addition, guides may be available from your state's or province's governmental bodies, such as the Vermont Emergency Response and Recovery Planning Guide for Child Care Providers from the state's Agency of Human Services or the Oregon Early Learning Emergency Preparation and Response Plan from the Oregon Department of Education.

Download free daycare emergency contact forms (PDF)

Having updated emergency contact forms for every child at your childcare center is a crucial element in keeping everyone as safe and informed as possible. It's also important that your staff is trained on how and when to contact families in an emergency situation. Stay prepared by distributing a new daycare emergency contact form (PDF) for every child, physically or electronically, at the start of the school year.

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