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State Regulatory Requirements for Emergency Preparedness Planning

Published: September 13, 2012
Special Initiatives
Emergency & Disaster Preparedness

In 2012, OCC compiled the following excerpts from State child care center licensing regulations about emergency preparedness planning and response. These examples do not include all States that have emergency preparedness requirements, but were meant to represent a range of approaches that States have taken to ensure that providers and families are prepared for emergencies. Please note: Some of these regulations have changed since initial publication of this page. OCC is currently undergoing a review of the page, and will post updates as soon as possible, but in the meantime, some information may be outdated.

This information was compiled from the child care licensing regulations posted on the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education’s website. OCC does not endorse any non-Federal organization, publication, resource, or practice.


State Licensing Regulations

District of Columbia

“Chapter 3: Child Development Facilities,” in “Title 29,” in District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (4/27/2007)


369.9 Each Facility shall develop written emergency contingency plans and procedures to be followed in case of fire, natural or man-made disaster, loss of power, heat or water service, unsafe indoor temperatures, and any other dangerous environmental condition. These shall include procedures for evacuation as well as for sheltering in place, as deemed appropriate or as directed by authorized government officials.


Rules for Early Care and Education and School-age Centers(1/1/2007)


276. A licensee shall have a written emergency plan describing procedures for both natural and man-made disasters for such situations as a fire, flood, earthquake, extreme weather conditions, power failure or utility disruptions, chemical or toxic spills, bomb threat, or terrorist attack.

A. The emergency plan shall include procedures for training staff about disaster preparedness, staff’s specific responsibilities during a disaster, accounting for all children and staff, relocation process (if appropriate), and contacting appropriate emergency response agencies and parents/guardians.

277. A licensee shall have a written evacuation plan of the Center posted in each room the children use.

A. Monthly evacuation drills shall be practiced from all exit locations at varied times of the day and during varied activities including nap time. Each drill shall be documented and include information on the date and time of day of the drill, the number of children and staff members who participated, and the total amount of time necessary to evacuate the Center.

278. A licensee shall develop a written plan for procedures in the event that children and staff must remain at the Center for an extended period due to a natural or man-made disaster.

A. This plan shall include a list of emergency supplies for the care of children and procedures for feeding children and staff during the extended stay at the Center.


“Chapter 109 Child Care Centers,” in “Human Services Department [441],” in Iowa Administrative Code (4/7/2010)

109.10(15) Emergency plans.

a. The center shall have written emergency plans for responding to fire, tornado, flood (if area is susceptible to flood), intruders within the center, intoxicated parents and lost or abducted children. In addition, the center shall have guidelines for responding or evacuating in case of blizzards, power failures, bomb threats, chemical spills, earthquakes, or other disasters that could create structural damage to the center or pose health hazards. If the center is located within a ten-mile radius of a nuclear power plant or research facility, the center shall also have plans for nuclear evacuations. Emergency plans shall include written procedures including plans for transporting children and notifying parents, emergency telephone numbers, diagrams, and specific considerations for immobile children.

b. Emergency instructions, telephone numbers, and diagrams for fire, tornado, and flood (if area is susceptible to floods) shall be visibly posted by all program and outdoor exits. Emergency plan procedures shall be practiced and documented at least once a month for fire and for tornado. Records on the practice of fire and tornado drills shall be maintained for the current and previous year.

c. The center shall develop procedures for annual staff training on these emergency plans and shall include information on responding to fire, tornadoes, intruders, intoxicated parents and lost or abducted children in the orientation provided to new employees.

d. The center shall conduct a daily check to ensure that all exits are unobstructed.


“Subtitle 16: Child Care Centers,” in “Title 13A: State Board of Education,” in Annotated Code of Maryland (4/19/2010)

.01 Emergency Safety Requirements.

A. Emergency and Disaster Plan.

(1) Whenever children in care are present, there shall be at least one employee present who has completed approved training on emergency and disaster planning.
(2) The center operator shall prepare a written emergency and disaster plan that:

(a) Establishes procedures for:

(i) Evacuating the center, including an evacuation route;
(ii) Relocating staff and children to a designated safe site;
(iii) Sheltering in place in the event that evacuation is not feasible;
(iv) Notifying parents of children in care; and
(v) Addressing the individual needs of children, including children with special needs;

(b) Contains:

(i) The name of, and contact information for the local emergency operations center;
(ii) Assignment of staff responsibilities during an emergency or disaster;
(iii) A list of local emergency services numbers; and
(iv)  The radio station call sign and frequency for the local Emergency Alert System;

(c) Is practiced by staff and children at least:

(i) Once per month for fire evacuation; and
(ii) Twice per year for other emergency and disaster situations; and

(d) Is updated at least annually.

(3) A copy of the emergency escape route floor plan shall be posted in each area and room in the center.
(4) Each employee shall be oriented to the contents of the written emergency and disaster plan required at §A(2) of this regulation.

B. If the child care center is included within a comprehensive emergency and disaster plan, the center operator shall ensure that:

(1) The comprehensive plan contents meet all emergency and disaster plan requirements set forth at §A(2)(a) and (b) of this regulation; and
(2) A copy of the comprehensive plan is available to all staff.


“606 CMR 7.00 Standards for the Licensure or Approval of Family Child Care; Small Group and School Age and Large Group and School Age Child Care Programs,” in Code of Massachusetts Regulations (1/22/2010)

7.24: Care of Children in Group Day Care Programs

(7) Emergency Preparedness.

(a) The educator must handle all emergency situations in an appropriate manner.
(b) The educator must be able to communicate basic emergency information to emergency personnel.
(c) The licensee must provide to educators a working telephone for the purpose of making and receiving phone calls during all hours of program operation, whether on or off the premises, whenever they are responsible for supervising children.
(d) When considering evacuation or sheltering in place, the educator must follow the directions of the local emergency management authorities.
(e) Exit signs must be posted in rooms that have direct access to the outdoors.
(f) The licensee must have a written plan detailing procedures for meeting potential emergencies including but not limited to missing children, the evacuation of children from the program in the event of a fire, natural disaster, loss of power, heat or hot water or other emergency situation. The plan must include but not be limited to:

1. a method to obtain information from local authorities to determine whether to evacuate or shelter in place in the event of a natural disaster;
2. escape routes from each floor level approved for child care;
3. a designated meeting place outside and away from the child care home or facility;
4. a method of contacting the fire department or other appropriate authorities after the home or facility has been evacuated;
5. a method of communication with parents in the event of an emergency evacuation; and
6. a means to assure that no child is left in the home or facility after evacuation.

(g) The plan must be kept current and must meet the needs of all children in care, including infants, toddlers and any children (including but not limited to those with disabilities) who may need additional assistance during an evacuation.
(h) The educator must hold practice evacuation drills with all groups of children and all educators from each floor level of the approved space at least monthly. Drills must be held during different times of the program day, and must use alternative exits. The educator must document the date, time, exit route used, number of children evacuated and effectiveness of each drill.
(i) Programs that use cribs for evacuation must assure that such cribs are safe for the intended purpose, easily movable and small enough to fit through exit doors to the outside.


Licensing Rules for Child Care Centers (6/4/2008)

R 400.5113a Emergency procedures.

Rule 113a. (1) The center shall have written procedures for the care of children and staff for each of the following emergencies:

(a) Fire.
(b) Tornado.
(c) Serious accident, illness, or injury.
(d) Crisis management, including, but not limited to intruders and bomb threats.

(2) The center shall inform each member of the staff of his or her duties and responsibilities if an emergency occurs. Emergency procedures shall be reviewed with staff at least twice a year.

(3) The center shall establish and implement a fire drill program for staff and children consisting of at least 1 fire drill quarterly to assure prompt evacuation of the building in case of emergency.

(4) The center shall establish and implement a tornado drill program consisting of at least 2 tornado drills during the months of April to October to assure prompt emergency procedures in the case of a tornado.

(5) The center shall post emergency procedures and evacuation plans in a place visible to staff and parents.

(6) A written log indicating the date and time of fire and tornado drills shall be on file at the center.

(7) If cribs are used in emergency evacuations, then all doors within the means of egress shall be wide enough to readily accommodate the crib evacuation.


“Chapter 432A: Services and Facilities for Care of Children,” in Nevada Administrative Code (7/1/2004)

NAC 432A.280 Plan for emergencies; drills; posting of plans; daily sign-in sheets; fire safety; maintenance and availability of reports. (NRS 432A.077, 432A.180)

1. Each licensee shall develop an appropriate plan to ensure that the staff of his facility is prepared to respond in an emergency, including, without limitation, a fire or natural disaster.

2. Each plan developed pursuant to subsection 1 must include, without limitation:

(a) The duties of the director and staff;
(b) A procedure for removing staff and children to a shelter within a building of the facility if the staff and children are instructed to do so by emergency personnel;
(c) A procedure for evacuating the facility;
(d) A plan for transportation;
(e) A list of sites that may be used for relocation;
(f) A plan for the supervision of the children of the facility during the emergency;
(g) The manner in which children and staff from the facility will be accounted for during the emergency; and
(h) The method for contacting emergency personnel, including, without limitation, the fire department, a law enforcement agency or any other appropriate authority.

3. The licensee of a facility shall hold:

(a) A fire drill at least once every month; and
(b) A drill for natural disasters at least once every 3 months.

4. Appropriate plans for removing the staff and children of a facility to a shelter within a building of the facility and for the evacuation of the facility in case of emergency must be conspicuously posted in a public place in the facility.


“Division 300: Rules for Certified Child Care Centers,” in Oregon Administrative Rules (1/1/2010)

Hazards and Emergencies

(3) Emergency Plan

(a) The center shall have a written plan for handling emergencies, including, but not limited to, fire, acute illness of a child or staff, floods, earthquakes, and evacuation of the facility. The plan must include:

(A) How the center will ensure that parents or the parents’ emergency contacts can be reached in person;
(B) Designation of an alternate site in the event of evacuation;
(C) How the center will inform parents where children will be located in the event of evacuation;
(D) An accessible file of emergency contact numbers for children and staff; and
(E) Designation of a staff member(s) to take the emergency contact numbers file to the evacuation site in the event of an evacuation.

(b) All staff shall be familiar with the emergency telephone numbers and emergency procedures.

(c) Fire drills shall be practiced monthly. In addition, one other aspect of the emergency plan shall be practiced every other month.

(A) The director shall keep a written record of the type, date, time, and duration of the practices.
(B) If a center has on-site swimming or is responsible for off-site swimming, the practices must include pool and swimming safety.

(d) Fire and other emergency exiting shall not be through a swimming pool area.


“Chapter 3270: Child Day Care Centers,” in “Article I. Licensing/Approval,” in “Title 55: Public Welfare,” in Pennsylvania Code (5/2009)http://nrckids.org/STATES/PA/pennsylvania.htm

§ 3270.27. Emergency plan.
(a) The facility shall have an emergency plan that provides for:

(1) Shelter of children during an emergency including shelter in place at the facility and shelter at locations away from the facility premises.
(2) Evacuation of children from the facility building and evacuation of children to a location away from the facility premises. The evacuation routes and evacuation plans to exit the building may be the same as those required by § 3270.94(f) and (g) (relating to fire drills).
(3) A method for facility persons to contact parents as soon as reasonably possible when an emergency situation arises.
(4) A method for facility persons to inform parents that the emergency has ended and to provide instruction as to how parents can safely be reunited with their children.

(b) The operator shall review the emergency plan at least annually and update the plan as needed. Each review and update of the emergency plan shall be documented in writing and kept on file at the facility.

(c) Each facility person shall receive training regarding the emergency plan at the time of initial employment, on an annual basis and at the time of each plan update. The date of each training and the name of each facility person who received the training shall be documented in writing and kept on file at the facility.

(d) The emergency plan shall be posted in the facility at a conspicuous location.

(e) The operator shall provide to the parent of each enrolled child a letter explaining the emergency procedures described in subsection (a). The operator shall also provide to the parent of each enrolled child a letter explaining any subsequent update to the plan.

(f) The operator shall send a copy of the emergency plan and subsequent plan updates to the county emergency management agency.

South Carolina

“114-500: Regulations for the Licensing of Child Care Centers,” in Chapter 114: Department of Social Services (5/16/2005)

114-505 HEALTH, SANITATION AND SAFETY H. Fire safety and emergency preparedness

(1) Private and public child care centers shall comply with the regulations and codes of the State Fire Marshal.

(2) In the event of a natural disaster or unscheduled closing of a child care center, the capacity may be exceeded temporarily to accommodate the displaced children. The director shall notify the Department of the situation and maintain appropriate staff:child ratios at all times. Required records shall be kept on file for the new enrollees.

(3) The facility shall have an up to date written plan for evacuating in case of fire, a natural disaster, or other threatening situation that may pose a health or safety hazard. The facility shall also include procedures for staff training in this emergency plan.


Rule R430-100 Child Care Center (7/1/2009)

R430-100-10. Emergency Preparedness.

(5) The provider shall have a written emergency and disaster plan which shall include at least the following:

(a) procedures for responding to medical emergencies and serious injuries that require treatment by a health care provider;
(b) procedures for responding to fire, earthquake, flood, power failure, and water failure;
(c) the location of and procedure for emergency shut off of gas, electricity, and water;
(d) an emergency relocation site where children may be housed if the center is uninhabitable;
(e) a means of posting the relocation site address in a conspicuous location that can be seen even if the center is closed;
(f) the transportation route and means of getting staff and children to the emergency relocation site;
(g) a means of accounting for each child’s presence in route to and at the relocation site;
(h) a means of accessing children’s emergency contact information and emergency releases; including contact information for an out of area/state emergency contact person for the child, if available;
(i) provisions for emergency supplies, including at least food, water, a first aid kit, diapers if the center cares for diapered children, and a cell phone;
(j) procedures for ensuring adequate supervision of children during emergency situations, including while at the center’s emergency relocation site; and
(k) staff assignments for specific tasks during an emergency.

(6) The provider shall ensure that the emergency and disaster plan is followed in the event of an emergency.

(7) The provider shall review the emergency and disaster plan annually, and update it as needed. The provider shall note the date of reviews and updates to the plan on the plan.

(8) The emergency and disaster plan shall be available for immediate review by staff, parents, and the Department during business hours.


Standards for Licensed Child Day Centers (3/6/2008)

22 VAC 15-30-610. Procedures for emergencies.

A. The center shall have an emergency preparedness plan that addresses staff responsibility and facility readiness with respect to emergency evacuation and shelter-in-place. The plan, which shall be developed in consultation with local or state authorities, addresses the most likely to occur emergency scenario or scenarios, including but not limited to natural disaster, chemical spills, intruder, and terrorism specific to the locality.

B. The emergency preparedness plan shall contain procedural components for:

1. Sounding of alarms (intruder, shelter-in-place such as for tornado, or chemical hazard);
2. Emergency communication to include:

a. Establishment of center emergency officer and back-up officer to include 24-hour contact telephone number for each;
b. Notification of local authorities (fire and rescue, law enforcement, emergency medical services, poison control, health department, etc.), parents, and local media; and
c. Availability and primary use of communication tools;

3. Evacuation to include:

a. Assembly points, head counts, primary and secondary means of egress, and complete evacuation of the buildings;
b. Securing of essential documents (sign-in record, parent contact information, etc.) and special healthcare supplies to be carried off-site on immediate notice; and
c. Method of communication after the evacuation;

4. Shelter-in-place to include:

a. Scenario applicability, inside assembly points, head counts, primary and secondary means of access and egress;
b. Securing essential documents (sign-in records, parent contact information, etc.) and special health supplies to be carried into the designated assembly points; and
c. Method of communication after the shelter-in-place;

5. Facility containment procedures, (e.g., closing of fire doors or other barriers) and shelter-in-place scenario (e.g., intruders, tornado, or chemical spills);

6. Staff training requirement, drill frequency, and plan review and update; and

7. Other special procedures developed with local authorities.

C. Emergency evacuation and shelter-in-place procedures/maps shall be posted in a location conspicuous to staff and children on each floor of each building.

D. The center shall implement a monthly practice evacuation drill and a minimum of two shelter-in-place practice drills per year for the most likely to occur scenarios.

E. The center shall maintain a record of the dates of the practice drills for one year. For centers offering multiple shifts, the simulated drills shall be divided evenly among the various shifts.

F. A 911 or local dial number for police, fire and emergency medical services and the number of the regional poison control center shall be posted in a visible place at each telephone.

G. Each camp location shall have an emergency preparedness plan and warning system.

H. The center shall prepare a document containing local emergency contact information, potential shelters, hospitals, evacuation routes, etc., that pertain to each site frequently visited or of routes frequently driven by center staff for center business (such as field trips, pickup/drop off of children to or from schools, etc.). This document must be kept in vehicles that centers use to transport children to and from the center.

I. Parents shall be informed of the center’s emergency preparedness plan.

Updated November 2010

Last Reviewed: September 1, 2015