Safety in Family Child Care Settings: An Overview
By creating and maintaining a safe environment, you provide children with the security they need to develop. You also provide families with the peace of mind they deserve to adequately focus on work or other life needs. As a family child care provider, you have a unique set of challenges and strengths to consider in ensuring safety in your setting. Establishing a safe environment involves awareness and diligence, but ensuring safety does not mean a loss of fun or age-appropriate autonomy.
Ratios and Supervision in Family Child Care
One of the most critical ways you will ensure safety in the daily care of children is by maintaining appropriate ratios and practicing strong supervision. Although these are important aspects of safety, keeping ratios and using good supervision practices also help foster the development of each child. Maintaining required ratios and supervision practices means you have enough time to offer the engaged attention that helps them bond with you and the other children and learn about the world around them.
Indoor Environments and Materials
Another important way you keep the children in your care safe and secure is by creating and maintaining a safe environment. This can be challenging in your home, as it is also a space shared with your family. Ensuring a safe indoor environment includes many things in a family child care home, including the facilities, the layout of furniture, the safety of toys and materials, the storage of items, and the prevention of injuries and emergencies.
Outdoor Environments and Materials
In Lesson Three, we addressed critical components of the indoor environment. Children’s outdoor engagement is just as important for their development, but there are also just as many safety risks to consider. As a family child care provider, you must know how to assess and address outdoor safety concerns in a variety of contexts, including local parks.
Establishing safe sleep practices and good sleep habits are a critically important part of supporting children’s development. Much research has been conducted about safe sleep practices that address sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and suffocation risk. Simple care-giving techniques can play a critical role in keeping young children safe during sleep and in providing children with the rest they need for healthy growth.
Preparing for Emergencies
Although we work hard to prevent accidents and ensure safe environments, emergencies can happen at any moment. As a family child care provider, you have special roles in preparing for emergencies — you are the individual responsible for both development of and proper implementation of emergency plans. Being prepared and practicing for emergencies will help keep you and the children in your care safe and calm during stressful situations. This lesson will focus on helping you consider different emergencies, developing emergency plans, and preparing for different emergencies with documented drills.
Responding to Injuries
Despite your best efforts to keep children safe, injuries can happen. You must be prepared to respond quickly when a child gets hurt. This lesson will help you recognize different events that can cause injuries, how to keep young children safe, and when to get them medical attention.
Safe Routes and Vehicle Safety
Your responsibility for a child’s safety begins before children even arrive at your program. It continues until children are safely under their families’ supervision. This lesson will help you ensure that safety rules and procedures are followed when children are around or transported in vehicles, on foot, on bike, or entering and exiting the bus as they are coming to your program or leaving for the day. It will also address how you can ensure children’s safety when you transport them.
Special Considerations for Trips Away from Your Program
Trips away from your child care program are excellent ways to help young children learn. Trips present some risks, however. This lesson will help you learn how to prevent and respond to safety problems on trips away from your program. As a family child care provider, you may make daily or weekly trips away from your home to places like a neighborhood park or the local library. Routine trips and one-time field trips both require special planning to ensure children’s safety.
Developing and Teaching Safety Rules
Teaching children how to be safe is an important part of your job. Designing effective rules can be an important step in helping keep children safe. In a family child care setting, you often have to think about rules that are appropriate for toddlers through school-agers. In this lesson, you will learn about why rules are important, the characteristics of effective rules, and strategies for teaching rules to young children.
Technology and Internet Safety
This lesson will help you understand the positive aspects and risks of internet and technology use for children in your care. You will learn how to address issues surrounding use of the internet and technology and receive tools that will enable you to create a safe environment in your program.