Incident Reporting – A Tool for You, The Child, The Parent
Children are active! Bumps, bruises, and scrapes are bound to happen, no matter how safe your kids’ area is. Therefore, having a well-designed process to document incidents is an imperative tool for improving child safety. It benefits you, the child, and the parents.
Additionally, beyond handling minor scrapes, organizations caring for children have an obligation to protect children and keep parents updated. A good incident report is an important first step to capture and provide information for follow up when an incident occurs.
According to GuideOne Insurance, an incident report is defined as, “Any time an accident happens that requires the injured child to stop normal activity and/or receive first aid or medical attention; an accident report form must be completed. This report is also filled out if an incident occurs that requires outside intervention.” Source: The Risk Management team of GuideOne Insurance.
Beyond sharing information and keeping parents updated, a good incident report can be used to assist in mitigating possible risk. The report should include details about the accident including photos, treatment given, witnesses, and the steps that will be taken to prevent another occurrence in the future.
Photos are not necessary with every incident report (for example illness), but they are a great addition when viable, as they capture exact information and help leave less up to interpretation. This not only helps the family, it also protects the organization.
While slips and falls might be the number one risk, here are some additional examples of situations that would require an incident report be used:
1. A child becomes ill or receives an injury that requires first aid or medical treatment while in your care; an example includes a child falls and breaks a bone and/or is bleeding enough to require first aid.
2. A child receives a bump or blow to the head or other visible injury regardless of treatment.
3. A child is transported by ambulance from your facility.
4. An unusual or unexpected incident occurs that jeopardizes the safety of a child, such as a child left unattended, there is a vehicle accident (with or without injuries), or a child is exposed to a threatening person or situation.
5. There is an allegation or reasonable suspicion of abuse of a child.
Important: Consult your state’s mandatory reporting requirements for further information on abuse reporting.
How to Complete
It’s important to note that prior to an incident report being completed, the child should receive all the appropriate actions required to ensure their safety and well-being. Once the child is taken care of, an incident report needs to be completed immediately while the situation is still fresh in everyone’s mind. It should be completed by the teacher or staff member(s) present when the accident occurred.
The child’s parents should be notified immediately. Start by letting them know everything is ok and use the incident report as the basis of the discussion with them to explain what happened, how it was handled, and any next steps. Give them ample time to understand the situation and ask questions. Also be sure to give the parents/guardians a copy of the incident report to take with them. It’s a good idea too to have the parents sign the report to indicate it has been discussed with them.
Depending on the severity of the incident, or reaction of the parents, determine if gym leadership needs to be involved in the discussion. Regardless, a copy of the form should be shared with the appropriate people in management, determined by the organization, for example the Kids Club Director, Childcare Supervisor, Camp Leader, etc to ensure they are aware of all incidents, able to help determine future preventative measures, and are up-to-date in case questions arise. All reports should then be kept and filed in an appropriate predetermined place for records management and future reference. Many electronic children’s check-in systems have document management capabilities that allow a digital copy to be uploaded directly with the particular families account.
While the incident report does take a bit of extra time, in the end, having a good report and process in place is an important step in keeping all involved safe and secure.