Flexibility is the key during difficult times – if parents are delayed due to city centre lockdowns or cancelled trains, allow children to stay later; if you are told by emergency services to lockdown or evacuate then make every effort to keep parents updated and follow advice from emergency services until the situation is resolved. It might be useful to make extra food and drink available for the children and to make sure you have stocks of extra nappies etc for the little ones.
Children often express how they are feeling through their behaviour. If you note changes in a child’s behaviour which might be linked to them seeing or hearing information about the recent terrorist attack in Manchester, you should speak to parents to find out what is happening at home and support the child through teaching them about their emotions and helping them to express themselves in a different way.
Experts do not recommend talking to the children about the terror attacks but, if they ask questions, they will need honest, age-appropriate answers to help them manage their emotions and feel reassured so they understand what has happened. You might find it useful to think through what you will say if a child asks you for information about the terror attacks. There are a number of useful websites including this from BBC News -
Your major incident plan / critical incident policy - which does not need to be in writing but should be in place and explained to parents – will state that you will actively avoid dangerous areas where people gather and, if you are caught up in an emergency situation, you will follow advice from emergency services and make every effort to inform parents about what is happening (as above). Parents might find it reassuring if you share your plan / policy with them either verbally or in writing and let them know that you will continue to care for their child if they are unable to collect due to local emergency near their place of work or problems with getting back to you at the normal time.
You might want to re-visit your ‘Late Arriving Parents’ Procedures in light of the current critical threat level and ensure it is supportive of parents who might not be able to return on time to collect their child due to terrorist or other incidents. It is a statutory requirement (R 3.73) of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS, 2017) that this procedure is shared with parents in writing as part of your Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy and Procedures.
EYFS 2017 - https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/596629/EYFS_STATUTORY_FRAMEWORK_2017.pdf
In the meantime, it is important to make sure your emergency contact details for parents and their nominated contacts are up-to-date. They should be updated regularly but a lot of providers let it slide – now is the time to get the forms out, put them in front of parents at collection time and ask them to check all phone numbers are correct and review the list of people who can collect their children in an emergency - such as parents not being able to collect their child.
You can find a free Child Record Form, which includes space to record nominated people parents want to collect their child if they are unable to get to you due to, for example, a lockdown, trains not running or other emergency situation here (free for all members of Childcare.co.uk) –
Staff teams in nurseries might find it helpful to work through different emergency scenarios as part of their in-house staff training programme.
This is the email I sent to parents at Knutsford Childminding. You are welcome to use it or adapt it for your own use...
As I am sure you all know, the Prime Minister has raised the threat level in the country to ‘critical’ and we have been advised by our Local Authority to avoid all busy places such as city centres and places where groups of people congregate.
- If a threat is received against us we will contact the police and follow their advice.
- If we are in an emergency situation during an outing with the children we will follow our emergency procedures which are to –
(1) Continue to provide care for the children to the best of our ability;
(2) Make every effort to contact the emergency services and follow their advice;
(3) Make every effort to contact parents** or the child’s emergency contacts to inform them of the situation.
**Note - we store Emergency Contact Forms which you completed and signed for your child in the provision and we carry copies of these forms with us during outings: these forms include parent and other contact details.
Parents, please take a moment to ensure the forms are up-to-date and phone numbers have not changed.
We have also been thinking about how we will talk to your child if they ask us for information about the recent terrorist atrocity in Manchester. We will not raise the subject of the attack, but if your child talks to a staff member about it we will listen to their concerns, answer them honestly and let you know what they have said to us so you can continue to support them at home.
Thank you, Sarah and Nige.