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Safe Routes to and from School

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 safety rules and procedures are followed when school-age children are around vehicles, on foot, on bike, or entering and exiting the bus as they are coming to your program or leaving for the day.

  • Recognize safe procedures for arrival and departure.
  • Evaluate procedures for pickup and drop-off for safety.
  • Discuss with school-age children how to travel safely to and from the program.



School-age children will come to and leave your program in many different ways, and transportation-related injuries are a very real risk for school-age children. It is important to prepare for walkers, bus riders, bike riders, and those who are dropped off by car. For all these, knowing and observing traffic safety rules is the first step in preventing accidents. It is also important to know specific policies about how school-age children arrive and depart from your facility. 

Drop-off and Pickup

It is very important to have a drop-off and pickup process that consider activities on your program’s property and in the surrounding areas. Many programs set a designated drop-off zone. The cars enter a designated lane in single file to eliminate congestion and disorder and to lessen the risk of accidents. Without a process, drop-off and pickup could become chaotic and cause traffic issues on nearby streets. Congestion and confusion can also lead to unsafe driving behaviors as drivers rush or become frustrated. The process that your program chooses for loading and unloading should be discussed and demonstrated with the children, families, staff, and drivers.

Your program will have procedures for safe arrivals and departures, including for children arriving or departing unattended. Never let a school-age child leave your program unattended unless there is specific consent allowing them to do so. Be sure to check with your program for specific rules and guidelines. 



This video highlights what children should know about getting to and from your program.

Traveling Safely to Your Program

Watch this video to learn about important safety tips to share with children.


Arrival and Departure

Pickup and drop-off are risky times for children. It is important to supervise closely and help children learn how to be safe. Some ideas that can help with safety during drop-off and pickup are:

  • Post signs so drivers know where to drop off and how to exit.
  • Talk with your program manager about having a lane that is just for drop-off and pickup.
  • Assist children as they enter and exit motor vehicles.
  • Remind parents or guardians of procedures. Provide maps in program newsletters and announcements.
  • If your staff members at your program are responsible for walking children to or from school or transporting them in a government vehicle, be sure to model good behavior by following traffic and pedestrian rules. Check with your program’s policies about walking with or transporting children; a walkie-talkie or cell phone and first-aid kit may also be required.

Teaching Children to Travel Safely

It is your responsibility to make sure children know how to reach your program safely. They may ride a bus, walk, or ride a bike. Teach children safety guidelines for each mode of transportation.

Monitor children’s compliance with safety guidelines. Talk to children about the importance of wearing helmets and following traffic laws.


As children come and go from your program, there are threats that could make it unsafe. Read the scenarios in the Routes to and From. . .activity. Identify the threats related to different routes coming and going to your program. Then, brainstorm possible solutions. Share your responses with your administrator, trainer, or coach. Then compare your answers to the suggested answers key.


This document provided by the National Safety Council provides more information about safe travel to and from school. Share it with school-age children and families. 


Which of the following procedures can help ensure safety during drop-off and pickup?
True or false? Safety begins before school-age children arrive at the program.
Your school-age program is located near an elementary school. Every afternoon, a driver speeds through the school zone while you are walking children to your program. What should you do?
References & Resources

American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association, National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education. (2019). Caring for our children: National health and safety performance standards; Guidelines for early care and education programs. (4th ed.). American Academy of Pediatrics. 

National AfterSchool Association. (1998). The NAA standards for quality school-age care. National AfterSchool Association.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (n.d.). School bus safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

The National Safety Council. (2019). Back to school safety checklist. The National Safety Council Website. 

U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). (2003, July). The Child Care Center Design Guide. GSA Public Buildings Service, Office of Child Care.