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Child Care Licensing
Field trips: Ensuring the safety of children

Summer is quickly approaching. This time of the year is the perfect opportunity to plan—and train staff—for field trips. You increase your liability the minute you take children away from your property, so carefully consider how to reduce the risk to children when taking off on a fun field trip.

Here are excerpts from the standards that may apply to field trips.

Research the venue. Is there anything in the minimum standards that prohibits the venue? Is there any equipment or structures at the venue that might pose a hazard for children? If so, how will you and your staff ensure that children are not accessing these hazards while there? You and your staff should physically visit the venue to determine if anything can risk the health and safety of children.

§746.4603 Are there some types of equipment that children must not use?

Yes. Children must not use the following types of equipment at or away from the child care center:
(1) Heavy swings made of metal or that have metal components, such as animal figure swings;
(2) Equipment that allows children to fall inside the structure and onto other parts of the structure, such as certain styles of monkey bars or jungle gyms;
(3) Trampolines, except those less than 4 feet in diameter and that are no higher than 12 inches above a properly installed and maintained resilient surface;
(4) Swinging exercise rings and trapeze bars on long chains or free swinging ropes;
(5) Multiple occupancy swings, such as teeter-totters, gliders, or chair swings (other than tire swings).

Identify children and staff when away from the center. Health and safety rules expect that you be able to easily and immediately identify the children and staff members associated with your program.

§746.3001 May I take children away from my child care center for field trips?
(5) Each child must wear a shirt, nametag, or other identification listing the name of the child care center and the center’s telephone number.
(6) Each caregiver must be easily identifiable by all children on the field trip by wearing a hat, child care center T-shirt, brightly colored clothes, or other easily spotted identification.

This standard is crucial during water-related and swimming field trips. Consider how you will ensure that your staff and children are easily identifiable at a busy public pool. Most children wear the school shirt to the pool and then take it off to swim. The problem with this is now the children you brought look like the general public.

Some centers and homes ensure children’s safety by having them wear brightly colored wristbands that match the shirts or hats of staff. This is just one of many suggestions on how to meet the .3001 standard.

Your role is to plan ahead to ensure the safety to the children when leaving your facility. One of the best lines of defense is to be able to easily account for all children in your care when mixing with the public.

Increase supervision. Field trips involve higher risk to children and require increased supervision by adults. Injuries and serious incidents are more likely to occur when a child’s surroundings change or when there is a change in routine. When children are excited or busy playing in unfamiliar areas, they are likely to forget safety measures unless they are closely supervised.

Also consider how you will supervise children accessing the public restroom. If you have done your research on the venue, you will have a plan in place for how you will manage the bathrooms and ensure the children’s safety from the general public and that your own children are supervised to ensure appropriate behavior.

Address specialized staff training for field trips, transportation, water activities, and supervision. Now is the time to secure training so that every member of your staff is up to date on required training such as CPR and first aid, transportation, safety, risk assessment, and supervision. Clearly define your procedures for ensuring all children are accounted for when unloading at the site, participating in the field trip activity, loading for return, and unloading after the field trip. Children are often tired and fall asleep after a fun field trip. When the last child has exited, always walk the vehicle front to back to ensure that a child has not fallen asleep on a seat.

Account for all children when exiting. Here are several things your program may do to ensure all children are accounted for when exiting a vehicle:
Use the list of children to verify each child by name.
Walk and check the inside of the vehicle, both in and under each seat.
Have a second person check the vehicle.
Have a visual reminder such as a sticker, keychain, or tag that reminds you to do the walkthrough.

Products are available for purchase that make a noise when the vehicle is turned off and does not stop until you hit the Off button at the back of the vehicle.

Get a comprehensive review. You can review all field trip, transportation, ratio, and training standards at the following links. You may also search keywords by using the Ctrl F function.

Remember that your local licensing office is a great resource when you have questions regarding standards or best practices in your program.