To ensure the safety of children in care, child care providers must be adequately prepared to respond to the needs of children in the event of disasters and emergencies. In accordance with section 3.8, Child Care Facility Handbook and section 7.22 Family Day Care Home and Large Family Child Care Home Handbook providers require:
- A written emergency preparedness plan. Plans must include at a minimum:
- Steps to be taken by providers during a fire, evacuation, relocation, shelter in place, lockdown, and inclement weather (hurricane)
- Procedures for accounting for children
- Procedures to facilitate parent/guardian reunification onsite and offsite
- A plan for communicating with parents/guardians
- How the provider will meet the needs of all children, including children with special needs or chronic medical conditions, during and following an emergency event
- A current attendance record must accompany the provider during the drill or actual emergency and must be used to account for all children. Daily classroom attendance record must be used to account for all children once gathered in a safe space after exit and upon return to the program.
- Lockdown and inclement weather drills shall be conducted a minimum of one time each per operating year when children are in care.
- Providers must prepare and post an emergency evacuation plan, including a diagram of safe routes by which the personnel and children may exit in the event of fire or other emergency requiring evacuation.
- Should the provider choose to use alternate power source, such as a generator, it must be permanently installed and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations and comply with the Florida Building Code and the Florida Fire Prevention Code 69A-60, F.A.C. The alternate power source and fuel supply shall be located in an area that is not subject to flooding or damage from storm surge. Additionally, if the generator is gas powered, the facility must install and maintain a carbon monoxide detector.
- Providers must have a written plan for reporting and managing any incident or unusual occurrence that is threatening to the health, safety, or welfare of the children, staff or volunteers. The following types of incidents must be addressed:
- Lost or missing child;
- Suspected maltreatment of a child;
- Injuries or illness requiring hospitalization or emergency treatment;
- Death of child or staff member;
- Presence of a threatening individual who attempts or succeeds in gaining entrance to the facility.
After a fire or natural disaster, the operator must notify the licensing authority within 24 hours as to their operational status in order for the licensing authority to ensure health standards are met for continued operation.
- Operating a Child Care Program Following a Declared Emergency – provides guidelines for operating a child care program after a declared emergency
- Florida’s Child Care Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) – provides guidance to ensure the continued execution of the mission-essential functions of the Department of Children and Families, Child Care Regulation in the event of an emergency
- Child Care Licensing Contacts – provides up to date contact information for local licensing authority
- Early Learning Coalitions Directory – provides up to date contact information for your county’s Early Learning Coalition for information on alternative child care locations
- Florida Department of Health – information on drinking water safety and other health precautions
- Florida Division of Emergency Management – information on evacuations, alternate transportation routes, and preparing for a disaster
- FEMA – information on different types of disasters, disaster and emergency declarations, and current response and recovery information
- The Department of Children and Families Disaster Service – provides state office closures for affected counties
- Sample Childcare Emergency Action Plan – guidance on preparing a child care emergency preparedness plan