Private Organization Accreditation

Catholic Charities alleviates human suffering and improves the quality of life of 100,000 people annually, regardless of religious background. A staff of 600 provides support and services related to housing, food, mental health, children's services, addiction treatment, and domestic violence services.


Audrey Coleman, RN-MSN

Volunteer Roles: Military Reviewer; Peer Reviewer; Team Leader

My first experience with COA was in 1999 with what was a NC Area Program. I started as a peer reviewer in 2005, doing two to four site visits a year. I am also a team leader and have recently been approved to be a military reviewer.
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Early Childhood Education facilitates appropriate child development and ensures the health and safety of children in care.

CYD-ECE 5: Safety

The program promotes and protects the safety of children and staff.

Rating Indicators
The program’s practices fully meet the standard, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice Standards.
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards.
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards.

Table of Evidence

Self-Study Evidence On-Site Evidence On-Site Activities
    • Procedures for maintaining safety (CYD-ECE 5.01, 5.13)
    • Maintenance procedures (CYD-ECE 5.03)
    • Infant sleep procedures to reduce risk of SIDS (CYD-ECE 5.05)
    • Emergency response plan and preparedness procedures (CYD-ECE 5.06, 5.07, 5.08)
    • Medication management procedures or protocols (CYD-ECE 5.09, 5.10, 5.11) 
    • Procedures for vehicle use (CYD-ECE 5.12)
    • Motor vehicle insurance coverage expectations (CYD-ECE 5.12)
    • Maintenance inspection reports
    • Documentation of professional installation, maintenance, and annual inspection of playground equipment
    • Documentation of monthly playground maintenance inspections
    • Copies of manufacturers instructions for all playground equipment
    • Emergency preparedness training materials
    • Documentation that emergency preparedness training has been provided (e.g., in training files or personnel records)
    • Record of fire drills held
    • Medication logs
    • Documentation that medication management training has been provided (e.g., in training files or personnel records)
    • Accident, injury, and illness reports
    • Copies of licenses, driving records, and insurance documentation
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant staff
    • Review teaching staff personnel records for CPR and First Aid certification
    • Review children’s files/health records
    • Observe facility

  • FP
    CYD-ECE 5.01

    The program environment is child-proofed and free of safety hazards, and toys are non-toxic, child-safe, and maintained in good repair.

    Interpretation: Safety hazards include, but are not limited to: uncovered electrical outlets; walls, floors, furnishings or materials in disrepair; unsecured floor coverings or furniture; electrical cords, heating pipes, and sharp-edged objects that are not covered and secured; choking hazards that are within reach of infants or toddlers; harmful water temperatures; obstructed or poorly marked exits or emergency exits; unmarked glass doors; a lack of emergency lighting; walk-in freezers or refrigerators that do not open from the inside; unsecured windows in need of window guards; mirrors that are not shatter-proof (e.g., in hand-washing areas);  hazardous materials (e.g., disinfectants) that are not properly labeled and stored securely away from children; dangerous clutter and spills; glass and other unsafe litter; and unsafe use of electrical appliances such as space heaters.

    In addition, equipment, toys, and materials should meet safety requirements set forth by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and the program should be aware of any recalls that affect its products.  The CPSC provides web-based access to a list of product recalls.

    Note: Additional safety hazards are addressed more specifically in other standards.  See CYD-ECE 5.02 for more information about stairwells, CYD-ECE 5.04 for more information about playground equipment, CYD-ECE 5.10 for more information about the storage of medication, CYD-ECE 6.01 for more information about furniture, and CYD-ECE 6.02 for more information about outdoor fencing.

  • FP
    CYD-ECE 5.02

    Stairwells have railings and are closed off from child care classrooms.

    NA None of the program’s ECE facilities have stairwells. 

  • FP
    CYD-ECE 5.03

    Indoor and outdoor facilities and equipment are properly maintained through:

    1. regular inspections;
    2. preventive maintenance by a qualified professional;
    3. a monthly review of the heating, fire extinguishers, fire safety, lighting, and other systems;
    4. a review of vehicle safety inspections; and
    5. quick responses to emergency maintenance issues and potentially hazardous conditions.

    Interpretation: The monthly review can be a facility walk-through with a check list to verify that systems are functional, fire extinguishers are charged, etc.  Some or all of the above activities may be conducted by another party, such as a landlord, if the program is a tenant or shares space with another facility.  In such instances, the program must be able to demonstrate that it monitors and documents the completion of elements (a) through (e) to provide a safe environment.

    “Emergency maintenance issues” include overflowing toilets, flooded basements, defective heating systems, and other situations that can damage property, interfere with program operation, or pose a threat to children and personnel.  “Hazardous conditions” include, but are not limited to, those specified in CYD-ECE 5.01.

    Note: See CYD-ECE 5.04 for more information regarding the maintenance and inspection of playground equipment.

  • FP
    CYD-ECE 5.04

    A safe environment is maintained through proper selection and maintenance of play equipment, including:

    1. indoor and outdoor playground equipment that meets national safety standards;
    2. installing equipment on an appropriate amount of  impact absorbing surfaces;
    3. conducting daily inspections of playground equipment and the surrounding area;
    4. monthly maintenance inspections of playground equipment according to manufacturer’s instructions; and
    5. annual inspections of the play equipment by a Certified Playground Safety Inspector.

    Interpretation: The amount of the impact absorbing surface will vary given the material used and the height of the playground equipment.  Programs should refer to industry standards and the manufacturer’s instructions for more detailed guidance on the proper depth of impact absorbing surfaces.

    Interpretation: The daily inspection of the playground should focus on the immediate identification of potentially hazardous conditions such as standing water, broken glass, or damage to the play equipment. Monthly maintenance inspections should check for worn or damaged wood, bolts, chains, anchors, etc.  The program should use a standardized checklist for monthly inspections and observations should be documented.  While routine checks of playground equipment can be performed by trained staff, the inspection and maintenance of playground equipment is highly technical and best performed annually by an industry professional.

  • FP
    CYD-ECE 5.05

    Teaching staff take necessary precautions to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related infant deaths, including:

    1. placing infants on their backs for sleep unless otherwise instructed by the child’s doctor;
    2. placing infants on a firm sleep surface such as a safety-approved crib mattress with fitted sheet;
    3. removing soft materials or objects such as pillows, loose bedding, bumper pads, or toys from sleep areas;
    4. ensuring sleep spaces are free of strangulation hazards such as dangling cords, electric wires, and window-covering cords; and
    5. keeping the room at a comfortable temperature and dressing infants appropriately for the environment.

    Research Note: The Back to Sleep Campaign® reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related causes of infant death by educating caregivers on safe sleep practices, and is a good resource for organizations looking for more information on SIDS prevention. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development directs and maintains the Safe to Sleep campaign® in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, First Candle, and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau. 

  • FP
    CYD-ECE 5.06

    The program develops an emergency response plan that addresses:

    1. training personnel on how to respond in case of emergency;
    2. training children in a developmentally and age-appropriate manner on how to respond in case of emergency;
    3. maintaining emergency numbers, including police, fire, ambulance, and poison control, both on- and off-site;
    4. coordinating with emergency responders, and accessing emergency transportation both on- and off-site;
    5. coordinating and communicating with children’s families;
    6. coordinating with appropriate local, state, and federal governmental authorities;
    7. evacuating persons with mobility challenges and other special needs;
    8. accounting for the whereabouts of children and personnel; and
    9. maintaining a readily accessible telephone for incoming and outgoing calls, both on- and off-site.

    Interpretation: Emergency situations include, but are not limited to: accidents; serious illnesses; fires; medical emergencies; water emergencies; natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, or snowstorms; emergencies associated with outdoor activities; hostage situations; bomb threats; unlawful intrusions; physical assaults; and situations involving harm or violence or the threat of harm or violence.

  • FP
    CYD-ECE 5.07

    The program:

    1. conducts fire drills according to legal requirements, and at least monthly; and
    2. documents fire drills when they are held.

  • FP
    CYD-ECE 5.08

    The program ensures that staff are available to respond in a medical emergency by guaranteeing:

    1. each classroom has at least one person present with current pediatric First Aid certification;
    2. one person with current age-appropriate Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certification is on site at all times the program is in operation; and
    3. individuals with First Aid and CPR certification are present on field trips away from the facility.

    Interpretation: First Aid and CPR certification must be kept up-to-date according to the guidelines established by the certification body.  Certification courses with an online component are acceptable as long as they include a hands-on, in-person skills evaluation by an instructor.  Although not required by COA, programs may also wish to have staff practice their skills between certifications (e.g., by engaging in hands-on practice with a manikin), especially if certifications are good for more than one year.

  • FP
    CYD-ECE 5.09

    Personnel directly involved in medication control and administration receive training and demonstrate competence in medication control and administration, and knowledge of applicable legal requirements.

    NA The program does not administer or store medication.

  • FP
    CYD-ECE 5.10

    Protocols and controls governing the proper administration and storage of medication include:

    1. locked, supervised storage with access limited to authorized personnel and in accordance with law, regulation, and manufacturer’s instruction;
    2. maintaining medication in original packaging and labeling with the name of the child, medication name, dosage, prescribing physician name, and number or code identifying the written order;  
    3. appropriate disposal of expired or unused medication, syringes, medical waste, or medication prescribed to former persons served;
    4. a record of who received medications, what medications were administered, and when and by whom medications were administered; and
    5. protocols for the administration of over-the-counter medications.

    Note: As referenced in CYD-ECE 2.06, CYD-ECE 4.01, and CYD-AM 10.02, the program should also obtain written permission forms from parents or legal guardians, and maintain copies in children’s files or health records.

    NA The program does not administer or store medication.

  • FP
    CYD-ECE 5.11

    When adverse effects of medication are observed, personnel discuss such concerns with the child’s parent or legal guardian.

    NA The program does not administer or store medication.

  • FP
    CYD-ECE 5.12

    A program that permits or requires the use of program- or privately-owned vehicles to transport clients requires:
    1. the use of age-appropriate passenger restraint systems;
    2. adequate passenger supervision, as mandated by statute or regulation;
    3. proper maintenance of agency-owned vehicles;
    4. current registration and inspection of vehicles;
    5. annual validation of licenses and driving records; and
    6. motor vehicle insurance.

    Interpretation: A program can receive a rating of 2 on ASE 6.03 if one or two elements of the standard are not fully implemented, e.g., copies of licenses and driving records are not available or out of date for no more than 20% of personnel; or registration and vehicle inspection records are out of date for no more than 20% of privately-owned vehicles. However, if any one element of the standard needs significant improvement, the program will receive a rating of 3. 

    Interpretation: Regarding element (a), United States federal law requires school buses weighing under 10,000 pounds to have lap-shoulder (three-point) passenger restraint systems in place. States have the authority to implement more stringent seat belt regulations, especially for school buses weighing over 10,000 pounds. Programs should refer to state and local regulations to determine if retrofitting is necessary. 

    Interpretation: Children weighing less than 50 pounds should be secured in a child safety restraint system (car or booster seat) which meets federal motor vehicle safety standards (See FMVSS No. 213). Please also refer to state and local regulations for more stringent weight requirements, and specific age and seat requirements. 
    Interpretation: This standard applies to vehicles owned by the program as well as those owned by its personnel or volunteers that are used for transporting clients.

    When state inspection is not available (d), the program should establish alternate procedures for verifying proper maintenance of both privately- and program-owned vehicles.

    Interpretation: When the program has a contract with an outside transportation provider, it must include relevant safety expectations in the contract.

    NA The program does not permit or require transporting clients in program- or privately-owned vehicles.

  • FP
    CYD-ECE 5.13

    The program assesses its security needs and takes any appropriate measures needed to protect the safety of all persons who are in its facilities or on its grounds.

    Interpretation: Appropriate measures may include, but are not limited to, installing locks or buzzers on doors, requiring visitors to check in with a receptionist when they arrive at the program, or arranging for staff to monitor program entrances.

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