E- Bulletin from the ACS Division of Early Care and Education

Guess What?  ACS has joined our group of blog followers and contributors…. and following is one of their contributions.  Feel free to share this with your site directors.

Links to download: 

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Helping Infants and Young Children when Violence Occurs

 

Resources for Families and Schools in the Aftermath of the Newtown Tragedy:

In light of the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook, we wanted to send along guidance concerning the security of your center.

 

While significant investments in security systems have been made in recent, ACS Facilities field staff have reported that at least one in four centers have “lax” security.  That is, individuals can walk in the door or get buzzed in without having to provide identification.

 

We recommend that all programs complete a security audit to assess vulnerabilities as well as consider measures and procedures to improve security.  To guide your audit, we’ve compiled some recommendations below:

 

v      Review the status of your security equipment.

Ø      Recommended for every site:

§         Strong locks on every entry door

§         Video camera at every entry door

§         Video monitors for all entry doors

§         A panic button as part of your alarm system, placed in a discrete area that allows staff to alert the police when necessary

§         Buzzer system for front door with 2-way communication

Ø      Are these systems and equipment in good working condition at all times?

Ø      Are your doors consistently closed and locked after someone enters or leaves the building?

 

v      Review your procedures for drop-offs and pick-ups of children.

Ø      Station a staff member by the door to monitor that it is the parent or approved guardian dropping the child off and picking them up

Ø      The staff member should also ensure that escorts that drop off and pick up children sign them in and out; signing their whole name (not ‘mom’ or ‘dad’) and exact time.

Ø      Doors should not stay open or unlocked for any length of time

Ø      Review procedures not only with your staff, but with parents and guardians

Ø      Post signage at the door stating that visitors must show ID before entry

Ø      Every visitor – even FDNY, DOH, and ACS staff – must sign in and show ID

 

v      Review the procedures you have for interacting with a stranger who obtains access to your facility.

Ø      Call 911

Ø      Discuss this scenario with teachers and staff -– develop and communicate a pre-planned alert

Ø      Plan and practice lockdown and evacuation procedures from every conceivable point in the building

Ø      Don’t allow parents or visitors to roam freely, even if you know them – an ex-student, disgruntled employee or parent could pose a threat

 

v      Review emergency communication plans.

Ø      In the event of a power outage, is there a cell phone available to contact emergency services and parents?

Ø      Ensure that you have complete contact information for every child’s parent or guardian including cell phones, work phones, home numbers, and email. Ask for a preferred method of contact and request updated information regularly.

Ø      Teachers and Directors should bring hard copies of contact information home for use in the event of an emergency where families need to be contacted via phone, texting, and/or email chain. Staff should be clear on their specific calling assignments before an emergency arises, necessitating use of the stored contact information.

 

v      Revisit your written Emergency Plan and document new measures and procedures.

 

Remember – your best security is YOU and your staff.  No one has all of the answers for emergencies, but with each tragic event, we learn more and must remember to implement what we’ve learned.

 

See the attached documents for some guidance on how families and caregivers can help children who have been exposed to the Sandy Hook Shooting. The “Sandy Hook Handout” document is attached in both English and Spanish.

 

Please share your ideas for improving security with us so we can share them with others. This will be a continuing conversation about security so that you and your staff are vigilant every day and not just after a tragedy that forces us into high alert.

 

Thank you and be safe.

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