Supervision and Transitions: ACF-IM-HS-15-05



TO: Head Start and Early Head Start Grantees and Delegate Agencies

SUBJECT: Supervision and Transitions

The Office of Head Start (OHS) asks all Head Start and Early Head Start program leaders to remind staff to prioritize children’s safety by providing continuous supervision. Governing bodies, Tribal Councils, Policy Councils, directors, and managers must create a culture of safety within their programs. Everyone shares responsibility for keeping children safe. Grantee staff must ensure that “no child will be left alone or unsupervised while under their care” (45 CFR1304.52 (i)(1)(iii)).

OHS has received reports about children being left unsupervised inside and outside of Head Start programs, as well as on playgrounds and buses. These incidents are a grave concern for programs, OHS, and the families who entrust their children to Head Start care. Leaving children unsupervised increases the risk of serious injuries and emotional distress. Children who leave the Head Start facility alone may be exposed to further danger.

At the regional level, OHS responds to these incidents by contacting the grantee to gather information regarding the context, circumstances, and follow-up actions, including whether the incident has been reported to the appropriate licensing entity. Regional Offices also request copies of relevant documentation, such as communication with the family of the child or children involved, licensing reports and investigations where applicable, written procedures and related training records, and actions taken by the program in response to the incident.

On the local level, OHS recommends that each grantee’s governing body (the Tribal Council in Region XI) and Policy Council work with program management to develop and communicate an agency-wide child supervision plan. The plan should build a culture of safety by ensuring that each person understands his or her role in keeping all enrolled children safe, and that child-to-staff ratios are maintained at all times.

Active supervision is a set of strategies for supervising infants, toddlers, and preschool children in the following areas: grantee, delegate, and partner classrooms; field trips and socializations; family child care homes; and on playgrounds and school buses. Grantees should include action steps to implement each active supervision strategy in their child supervision plans. These six strategies work together to create an effective approach to child supervision.

  • Set up the environment to supervise children at all times. This may include developing and posting a daily classroom schedule for children, teachers, substitutes, and volunteers to follow that helps to keep the day predictable. The height and arrangement of classroom furniture and outdoor equipment should be considered to allow effective monitoring and supervision of children at all times.
  • Position staff to see and reach children at all times. Plans can include staffing charts that identify the teacher responsible for each area or activity and his or her duties during transitions before and after an activity.
  • Scan the environment, including assigned areas of the classroom or outdoor area, and count the children. Staff need to communicate with each other so everyone knows where each child is and what each one is doing. This is especially important in play areas and on the playground when children are constantly moving.
  • Listen closely to children and the environment to identify signs of potential danger immediately. Listen to and talk with team members, especially when a staff person or a child has to leave the area, so that staff knows where other staff are located.
  • Anticipate children’s behavior to give children any needed additional support, especially at the start of the school year and during transitions. Children who wander off or lag behind are more likely to be left unsupervised.
  • Engage and redirect when children are unable to solve problems on their own. Offer different levels of assistance according to each individual child’s needs.

Transitions are often the most challenging times to supervise children. To prevent children from being left unsupervised, program plans should include specific strategies for managing transitions throughout the day, such as when children arrive, leave, or move from one location to another within a center. Some examples may include:

  • Develop specific plans for regular routines, such as drop-off and pick-up times, including staff assignments (who will monitor the door, etc.).
  • Ensure teachers, teachers’ aides, and volunteers know when transitions will take place and are in position to provide constant supervision.
  • Discuss how the team will adjust to maintain appropriate adult-to-child ratios at all times, including when a teacher needs to leave the room.
  • Ensure parents understand their responsibilities during drop-off and pick-up of their child, and be alert to and communicate potential child wanderings as needed.
  • Limit the amount of time children are waiting in line to transition.
  • Reaffirm to children what adults expect during transitions.
  • Include plans for irregular times, such as when a center closes early due to weather or an outside door is open to allow the delivery of supplies.

Programs should report incidents of unsupervised children to the Regional Office of Head Start within three days of the incident, including, where applicable, any reports made or information shared with child welfare agencies, state licensing bodies, and parents. Regional Offices will provide technical assistance, as appropriate.

Programs are busy, active places. Head Start grantees that develop and use child supervision plans include roles for everyone to create a culture of safety where children can learn and grow.

Please contact your Office of Head Start Regional Office for more information on child safety, active supervision, and transitions.

/ Blanca E. Enriquez /

Blanca E. Enriquez
Office of Head Start

Source: Office of Head Start

Available at:

Available in Spanish at:ñol/2015/resour_ime_005e_091815.html

A Week on Active Supervision: Keeping Children Safe


The goal of the Week on Active Supervision: Keeping Children Safe is to provide practical support to programs in complying with the Head Start Program Performance Standards related to child supervision. Daily webinars this week will highlight these resources and show how the materials can be used across the birth to 5 continuum.The Office of Head Start (OHS) worked with the National Centers on Health (NCH), Quality Teaching and Learning (NCQTL), and Program Management and Fiscal Operations (NCPMFO), and the Early Head Start National Resource Center (EHS NRC) to develop these resources for you.

Source: Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center, Office of Head Start

Available at:

Keep Children Safe Using Active Supervision


Children learn best when they are in safe, well-supervised environments. Head Start staff can reduce the possibility of a child getting hurt when they closely observe children and respond when needed. When programs think systematically about child supervision they create safe, positive learning environments for all children.Using active supervision means that programs:

  • Develop a systems approach for child supervision
  • Provide staff development and resources to ensure program-wide implementation
  • Use redundant strategies to ensure no child is left unattended

Revisit the webinars from A Week on Active Supervision. This five-part series showcased National Center active supervision resources across the birth to 5 continuum. The Office of Head Start (OHS) answered questions from the field and provided strategies for keeping children safe in Head Start and Early Head Start settings. Be sure to listen to OHS Deputy Director Ann Linehan’s important message about Head Start’s responsibility to ensure all enrolled children are accounted for and safe.

Source: Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center

Available at:

Active Supervision Webinar

2 – 3 p.m. EST

Join the Office of Head Start National Center on Health (NCH) for a webinar that explores active supervision and how you can transform child supervision in your program. Actively supervising children is the best way to keep them safe. Discover strategies that you can use in classrooms, on playgrounds, and in family child care homes

Topics for this webinar include:

  • Defining active supervision
  • Identifying and practicing six active supervision strategies
  • Exploring ways to use and adapt these strategies in your program

Who Should Participate?

This webinar will benefit an array of audience members, including: Head Start center directors, education managers, classroom and assistant teachers, family child care providers, playground monitors, child care providers, and other adults who supervise children in programs.

How to Register

Participation is free. Select this link to register:

After registering, participants will receive a confirmation email with information on how to join the webinar on Thursday, Feb. 27. It will be recorded and archived on the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC) for later viewing.

Certificate of Participation

Participants will receive a certificate of participation upon completion on an online evaluation. A link to the evaluation will be available when the webinar closes. Participants must complete the online evaluation in order to receive a certificate. Only participants in the live presentation will be eligible.


For more information, contact NCH at or 1-888-227-5125.

via National Center on Health Event.

S.A.F.E. Supervision


NPPS strongly urges parents and adults to take an active role in playground supervision. Adults should always be present when children are playing at a local park, a school playground, child care center, or on the equipment in your backyard.Supervision is a critical component to the safety of children. Supervision can assist in ensuring safety and preventing injuries. Play areas need to be designed so that supervisors can see all areas. NPPS recommends that supervisors follow theABCs™ of Supervision. Supervisors need toAnticipate preventable problems and hazardous situations. Adult Behavior means being alert and attentive. Despite the type or Context of the play area, whenever children are on the playground, adults should be present.NPPS has a resource kit to help schools and early childhood centers develop a supervision plan. The Supervision Kit includes a manual design to help you develop your supervision plan, a SAFE Supervision training video, and a fanny pack.

Source: National Program for Playground Safety

Available at: