Following tragic school shootings and other newsmakers where kids are taken from child care settings, many parents may wonder what school districts and day care centers are doing to ensure child safety. Ask in case you don’t know.  Facilities should have a designated visitor entrance and check-in procedure. Keep in mind that these procedures are NOT intended to limit a parent's access to their child. Rather, these safety protocols are designed to make sure that staff knows at all times who is in their buildings and around children. Are all exterior doors locked (with the exception being the front main entrance, depending on the building's layout and size)? Some facilities have a safety keypad entry or buzzer system, while others are open with access only to a visitor's area. Remember, however, that someone who still wants to get in can often gain access by entering behind a parent who has just entered a code, etc., and then acts like any other parent. Another consideration is whether the exterior doors follow proper safety guidelines by allowing people to exit, just not gain entrance. Cameras can serve as a deterrent, but are less likely to be effective if they are not actively monitored throughout the day.

 

Are kids safe and sound at school

Even in-home providers with only a limited number of kids in care should have a plan in place on who is authorized to pick up a child. Parents should understand that this means that no exceptions will be made for a child's protection. Larger facilities should have a procedure in place in which parents picking up must present a photo i.d. and then the name cross-compared to an approved list (at least until workers personally know the parent).  Because they are in a hurry or pick-up is delayed, providers have lamented that parents often become frustrated or even irritable at these procedures. However, in light of the tragedies that continue to impact our precious children, parents should not only support these safety protocols, but insist on them! That means parents might need to build in a few extra minutes to their day for pick-up in the name of safety. Schools often house lots of kids, and as such, drop-off and pick-up times may have the potential for less control over who is entering and exiting a building. However, schools should have protocols in place. all parents coming into the classroom after school to personally get their child; or no kids being allowed to leave on their own (not always practical in communities where many kids are latchkey and walk or ride their bike home to an empty house), examples of safety procedures include all teachers remaining outside with kids until a known and approved parent or adult checks a child out with a teacher. Access to schools during the school day tends to be more controlled because kids are rightfully in their classroom. Parents should ask about how visitors check in, how kids are supervised during outdoor play, and what happens if a staff member is uncomfortable about someone being in the building or playground