banner svg (1)

Professional Guide to Daycare Incident Reports

Learn everything you need to know about daycare incident reports including what information to document, record keeping guidelines, and state requirements.

Professional Guide to Daycare Incident Reports

Professional Guide to Daycare Incident Reports

Incident reports play a crucial role in maintaining the safety and well-being of children in a childcare setting. These reports serve as valuable documentation that helps childcare providers track and address any accidents, injuries, or unusual incidents that occur during the care of children.

By accurately recording such events, childcare providers can identify patterns, implement preventive measures, and communicate effectively with families. Additionally, incident reports demonstrate your childcare center's commitment to transparency and accountability, ultimately fostering trust and confidence among both families and staff. 

In this article, we'll discuss the importance of daycare incident reports, how to write one, and state reporting requirements. 

What is a daycare incident report?

A daycare incident report is a record of an accident, injury, behavior, or other incident that requires a child to stop normal activity and receive first aid or medical attention. They also cover instances of neglect, like a child being left without proper supervision, aggressive or unusual behavior, suspicion of abuse, and errors in following through with directives from caregivers. Incident reports are essential documentation for your childcare business operations. By accurately capturing this information, childcare providers can track trends, identify potential safety hazards, and take proactive measures to prevent future incidents.

With brightwheel's childcare incident reports, you can easily create incident reports as fillable forms or upload a state mandated form and pre-fill required fields. This saves you valuable time, allowing you to quickly log incidents from your phone or tablet and store digital incident reports securely for easy access. 

Incident reports are meant to be comprehensive in case they need to be referred back to later and provide a detailed, objective record of a situation. It may be one report of an isolated incident or an ongoing report of a continuous issue. This thorough documentation can protect your program and ensure compliance with state regulations and guidelines.

Why are incident reports essential?

In a childcare setting, incident reports play a crucial role in maintaining the safety and well-being of children. By documenting any incidents that occur, you can ensure transparency, communication, and proper follow-up. Let's explore the key benefits of using incident reports in childcare settings.

Ensuring child safety

Incident reports serve as a vital tool for ensuring child safety within a childcare environment. By documenting any accidents, injuries, or unusual incidents, you can track incident data and take proactive measures to prevent future occurrences. This proactive approach contributes to creating a safer and more secure environment for the children under your care.

Communication and transparency

Utilizing incident reports fosters open communication and transparency among childcare staff, families, and administrators. When an incident occurs, completing a detailed report allows for clear documentation of what happened, the immediate actions taken, and any follow-up measures. This transparency builds trust with families, providing them with insight into the level of care provided at your program and demonstrating your commitment to the children's well-being.

Legal and compliance requirements

Incident reports serve as critical documentation to meet legal and regulatory compliance standards. By consistently and accurately documenting incidents, you demonstrate your adherence to safety protocols, duty of care, and regulatory requirements. In the event of an inquiry or audit, having easy access to thorough incident reports can protect your business and support your commitment to upholding the highest standards of care.

Improvement of risk management

Analyzing incident reports over time allows you to identify trends, assess risks, and implement targeted risk management strategies. By recognizing recurring issues or potential areas of concern, you can proactively address these challenges, implement additional safety measures, and provide staff training where necessary. This continuous improvement cycle enhances the overall risk management practices at your program.

Support for continuous professional development

Incident reports also contribute to the professional development of childcare staff. Through the process of documenting incidents, reflecting on the circumstances, and discussing the outcomes, staff members have the opportunity to learn from each situation. This reflective practice supports ongoing professional development, as educators can derive valuable insights and best practices from past incidents to enhance their caregiving practices.

How to write a daycare incident report

Daycare incident reports need to include specific information about the incident, the child that was involved in the incident, and the action that was taken after the incident occurred.

What to include in a daycare incident report

Include the below details in your incident reports:

  • The name of the childcare center
  • The name of the childcare professional completing the incident report
  • The child's name and age
  • The cause of the injury or incident
  • The date, time, and location of the incident
  • The locations of any injuries the child suffered
  • The types of injuries the child suffered
  • Medical treatment that the child received
  • The name of the medical facility (if the child was taken off-site to receive treatment)
  • The names of any staff members who witnessed the incident
  • The equipment involved in the incident (such as toys, playground equipment, furniture, medication)
  • The steps taken to prevent the incident from reoccurring 

After the incident report is completed, have it signed and dated by the employee who completed the form and the child's parent or guardian. Note how and when the child's family was contacted and who contacted them. 

Storing and sharing incident reports

Procedures for storing and sharing daycare incident reports vary by state. Most states require you to maintain copies of all incident reports at your center for a certain period of time and give a copy to the child's family. Other states require you to file a copy of the incident report with the state's licensing agency. Consult your state's childcare licensing department to learn more about its legal requirements regarding record keeping.

Create, share, and manage all your childcare forms in brightwheel. Easily share incident reports with families through the brightwheel app and collect digital signatures. You can eliminate back-and-forth paperwork by tracking form status in one central dashboard and storing all your documents in one secure, digital location.

Legal requirements of incident reporting

Federal law requires states to ensure that all licensed childcare providers meet specific health and safety standards and incident reporting guidelines. Reporting and compliance will vary by state and some state childcare licensing agencies may provide a specific incident report form for childcare providers to use (here's an example from the state of Louisiana and Massachusetts). Other states may issue reporting guidelines and best practices to follow if an incident occurs at your program. 

Regardless of your state's requirements, it's a good idea to have an organized record keeping process for incident reports for future reference if needed. Maintain accurate childcare records with brightwheel. Store all your records digitally in each student's profile in brightwheel, which can be accessed from any device.

Below, we've included links to each state's childcare licensing forms and documents or the relevant childcare incident report form (if applicable).

Incident reporting by state

Final thoughts

Childcare incident reports are critical in ensuring a transparent and safe childcare environment. They offer a structured approach to risk management, enhance the trust between caregivers and families, and promote a culture of continuous learning and improvement among childcare professionals. By prioritizing the meticulous documentation of incidents, childcare providers can significantly contribute to creating a nurturing, secure, and supportive setting where children thrive.

Brightwheel is the complete solution for early education providers, enabling you to streamline your center’s operations and build a stand-out reputation. Brightwheel connects the most critical aspects of running your center—including sign in and out, parent communications, tuition billing, and licensing and compliance—in one easy-to-use tool, along with providing best-in-class customer support and coaching. Brightwheel is trusted by thousands of early education centers and millions of parents. Learn more at

Subscribe to the brightwheel blog