Policy and Procedure Manual

Appropriate Release of Children from Head Start Classes

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The Emergency Contact form will list individuals authorized by the parent/guardian to have access to their child at the Head Start site, and those individuals the child may be released to after school. Hereafter, the word "parent(s)" will refer to both parent(s) and legal guardian(s). Under no circumstances will the child be released to an individual who is either not listed on the Emergency Contact form signed by the parent, or authorized in a written statement signed by the parent. (for students riding Head Start bus see Bus Transportation policy)Parents must update the Emergency Contact form as needed, and in a timely manner. Parents must notify Head Start staff of changes to the Emergency Contact form. (see Emergency School Closure, School Bus Accident and Snow Day policy in the Labor Contract)


  1. During the enrollment process, an Emergency Contact form will be completed with the names of individuals authorized to be contacted in case of emergency and those authorized to pick up the child.
  2. All sites will have a current signed copy of the Emergency Contact form in the site file, a current signed copy on the bus, where busing is provided, and one classroom signed copy. With Regional Manager (RM) or RM designee approval, a parent may submit a written, signed statement to update the Emergency Contact form. In these cases, the parent should sign an updated copy of the Emergency Contact form as soon as possible.
  3. In cases where the parent is incapable of communicating their wishes:
    1. Due to incapacitation, hospitalization, disappearance,
    2. Due to Department of Health & Human Services (DHS) Welfare involvement:
      1. Staff will notify the RM
      2. The RM will notify the Head Start Director
      3. The HS Director will notify the Executive Director
      4. The RM, Head Start Director or Executive Director will designate a decision-maker for the child.
  4. In cases where the parent wishes to deny access to the non-custodial parent, they will be required to provide appropriate copies of legal documentation (custody decree, restraining order,termination of parental rights). Staff will comply with the current and unexpired legal documentation on file, until written proof is received with gives different information.
  5. In cases where potential kidnapping or violence is an issue, photographs of said persons should be provided to Head Start by the parent, to assist staff in identifying these individuals.
  6. In cases where there are concerns on the part of the signatory adult, but there is no legal documentation available, DST will inform the RM and the Family Support Coordinator (FSC). The FSC will make appropriate referrals to legal aid or other legal counsel.
  7. If an individual appears at the site and is not listed on the Emergency Contact form:
    1. Staff will contact the signatory adult and the RM to inform them of the incident.
    2. If the individual refuses to leave, staff will inform then that HS will contact the police.
    3. Staff will refer to the crisis/emergency plan for child safety location if warranted.

Late Pick Up Procedure

  1. In the event that a child is not picked up within 30 minutes after the end of their class, or returned from the bus to site after failure to receive, and all attempts to contact the parent/guardian or other emergency card designee have been unsuccessful, this will constitute as an "emergency situation."
    1. For self-transport children, staff will call persons listed on the Emergency Contact (EC) list after class ends. Staff will call the EC list in order, until reaching a contact who can pick up the child promptly. If there is no response from the EC list, staff will call the Regional Manager, the Assistant Regional Manager, or their designee.
    2. For bused children, staff will call persons listed on the EC list when the child is not received from the bus. If there is no response from the EC list, staff will call the Regional Manager, the Assistant Regional Manager, or their designee.
    3. The Site Manager will take steps to ensure the safety of the child which may include contact with Child Protective Services and/or the local police. The incident will be documented and the Site Manager will meet with the parent.


This policy complies with Head Start Performance Standard 45 CFR Section 1304.40.
It was approved by Policy Council on September 9, 1997. March 2012. March 2016. September 2018
Updated July 2, 1999. June 26, 2002. March 2012. January 2016. February 2016. September 2016. March 2017. August 2018.
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