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Transportation and Field Trips

As the child and youth program manager, your primary responsibility is to provide oversight and accountability for the safety of children and youth in your program. It is administrative negligence to inadequately monitor your vehicles and the individuals who drive them.

  • Describe what matters most when transporting children and youth and while they are on field trips.
  • Identify management practices that ensure staff keep children and youth safe when being transported and while they are on field trips.
  • Apply the content of this lesson to ensure children and youth are transported safely.


Transporting Children and Youth

Risks elevate when children and youth are being transported. According to the Center for Injury Research and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children. You can mitigate the risk by ensuring that vehicles are safe, drivers meet all requirements, and safety procedures are followed.

As the facility manager, it is your responsibility to ensure that vehicles used to transport children comply with yourPUBLIC program’s vehicle requirements. It's also imperative that vehicle drivers are properly licensed and meet all requirements of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. If necessary, two staff members may transport one child in a government vehicle.

You must exercise due diligence and sound judgment when it comes to transporting children and youth. You are accountable for ensuring that children and youth are never transported in an unsafe vehicle, transported by unsafe individuals, or transported in staff vehicles. Systems for tracking vehicles and drivers must be followed at all times and concerns addressed immediately. In addition, you need to have staff and children routinely practice safe transportation drills.

Field Trips

Field trips provide extended learning experiences for children and youth and can be excellent for enriching the curriculum. Careful planning and preparation are important to keeping everyone safe while they have a good time.

If the field trip involves swimming, extra caution should be taken. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning remains the second-leading unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14 years.

Management Practices that Support Transportation and Field Trips

The chart below summarizes your key responsibilities when it comes to ensuring children and youth are safe while being transported and on field trips.

  1. Train for Transportation

    I Should Always...

    Make certain that staff are trained on transporting children and youth according to ourPUBLIC program’s requirements. ensure staff never...
    • Allow children and youth to enter and exit the vehicle from anywhere but the curb
    • Transport children and youth without being belted or in a car seat based on the age and weight of the child
    • Allow children and youth to be out of their seats while the vehicle is moving
    • Board or exit the vehicle without taking name-to-face head counts
    • Exit a vehicle unless every seat from back to front has been checked to ensure all children and youth are off the vehicle
    • Fail to act appropriately when transporting children and youth because they didn't receive training
  2. Train for Field Trips

    I Should Always...

    Make certain that staff are trained on thePUBLIC program’s field trip requirements. ensure staff never...
    • Take children and youth on field trips without reviewing safety rules with them multiple times prior to the trip
    • Take children and youth on field trips without having a safety plan in case an emergency situation arises
    • Take children and youth on field trips before assigning them a buddy
    • Leave for the field trip without taking permission forms, medical release forms, and emergency contact information forms
    • Leave for the field trip without taking a complete first-aid kit, emergency medications, and hand sanitizer in case there is limited access to water for washing
    • Leave for the field trip without taking a cell phone and cash for emergency incidentals or phone calls
    • Take children and youth on field trips without conducting name-to-face counts frequently; staff need to count children when they leave the program, board the vehicle, exit the vehicle, during the field trip, prior to reboarding the vehicle, after boarding the vehicle, when exiting the vehicle, and once they are back inside the program
    • Position themselves where they can't maintain visual contact with children and youth at all times
  3. Review Requests

    I Should Always...

    Review field trip requests and meet with staff prior to children and youth taking field trips. ensure staff never...
    • Take children and youth to an unsafe location
    • Go on a field trip without adequate staffing to maintain ratios; additional staff should be taken
    • Go on a field trip without understanding the communication plan in case an emergency arises
  4. Utilize Electronic Calendars and Reminders

    I Should Always...

    Use an electronic calendar for notificiation about upcoming critical expiration dates (vehicle inspections, drivers' licenses, driver training, etc.). Set the system to send notification two months prior to the expiration date to allow sufficient time to meet deadlines. ensure staff never...
    • Transport children and youth on unsafe vehicles or with unsafe individuals
  5. Develop a Field Trip Guide for Policies and Procedures

    I Should Always...

    Develop a field trip guide to accompany all field trips that details all field-trip policies and procedures. ensure staff never...
    • Fail to act appropriately because they were relying on memory instead of written procedures for field trips
  6. Review Emergency Situations

    I Should Always...

    Utilize staff meetings to role play emergency situations that could occur while on field trips. ensure staff never...
    • Feel unprepared when an emergency situation arises

The Importance of Sound Judgment

Sound judgment is a blend of common sense, business intelligence, and an understanding of people. As a manager, you are expected to exercise good judgment in every decision you make.

To make good decisions based on sound judgment you must know yourPUBLIC program’s protocols and policies inside and out, use data gathered from checklists and assessments to immediately address safety concerns, and take the perspective of your staff members into account. Sound judgment is absolutely critical to keeping everyone in your program safe from harm.

Watch this video as a reminder why transportation procedures matter so much.

Safe Transportation Procedures Matter

Why transportation procedures matter so much.


Take time during a staff meeting or have supervisors, trainers, or coaches ask staff members to identify possible emergency situations that could occur on field trips. Assign groups of staff members to research and write up solutions for each situation identified. At a subsequent staff meeting, review assignments and add any additional input.


Take the emergency situations and solutions from the Explore activity and create a question-and-answer document to be included in a field trip binder that would accompany every field trip. This same information could also be used to develop a risk assessment plan for use by staff members taking field trips. Be sure each answer is aligned to your  PUBLIC program’spolicies and procedures.


Staff who transport children:
In order for a child to attend a field trip, staff members should first:
To prepare for a field trip:
References & Resources

Parents Central, From Car Seats for Car Keys: Keeping Kids Safe homepage. (n.d.). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Available at