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Of all the documentation you wish you didn’t have to do as a childcare provider, incident reports aka ouch reports could be sitting right at the top of the list. When a parent entrusts their child in your care, it is not the most pleasant of things to report back to them that their child was injured while being under your supervision.

Though it may seem easier to ignore the minor injuries and squabbles, it's important that you document the incidents (no matter how small they are) and make sure the parents are notified about it. Instead of harming your reputation, it can, in fact, reflect positively on your accountability and competence as a childcare provider.

As long as you've assessed the risks in your setting and taken the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of the children, it is normal for children to suffer minor falls and injuries as they explore their boundaries. Little bumps and scrapes are a natural part of growing up, and most parents would acknowledge the fact as well.

Why is it important to maintain incident reports in childcare?

1.Legal Compliance

It is a regulatory requirement in most countries to retain an up to date record of accidents and incidents along with relevant signatures. For instance, in the UK, it’s mandatory for all childcare providers to maintain incident reports, inform parents and get their signatures on the reports, no matter how small the injury.

More serious incidents would, however, require you to notify the parents immediately and inform the authorities as soon as reasonably possible. You can find more information on informing the authorities in our article on reporting accidents and incidents to Ofsted.

If you are in the U.S, the childcare laws and regulations are more diverse and would vary from one state to the other and sometimes among various regions within a state. Make sure you check with the relevant authorities to ensure what the regulations are in your region.

2.Requirement for Insurance

As a childcare provider, you could be held liable for compensation and legal costs if a child in your care has a serious accident as a result of your negligence. Maintaining accurate incident reports could be a requirement for your insurance policy depending on the cover you have opted for.

3.Identification of Potential Hazards within the Premises

Regular incidents when using a particular toy or equipment or playing in a certain area could be an indicator of a risk or hazard that has been lying low within your premises. Keeping track of the incidents can help you identify patterns and flag any source of danger which might have gone undetected in your risk assessments.

4. Help with the Diagnosis of Developmental Disorders

If a child seems to be especially prone to accidents, it could be pointing towards a developmental disorder related to spatial processing, balance or vision. Incident reports can help doctors and occupational therapists identify patterns and diagnose any underlying developmental or behavioural disorders.

What are the details to include when writing an incident report?

Depending on the legal requirement in your region, you would be required to either use an official incident reporting form or create one for yourself. You can create your own incident forms using our free customisable template for incident reports. The important details to include in your report are:

  • Name and address of the child
  • Date and time of the incident
  • Nature of the injury
  • Description of the incident
  • Details about any treatment or first aid administered
  • Witnesses if any
  • Name and signature of the person who attended to the injury
  • Name and signature of the person who the accident was reported to
  • Signature of the parent

In case you use a digital platform like Cheqdin at your centre, you can record the incidents in your digital reports, notify the parents digitally and print off the document later, as required. However, regardless of how you choose to record the incident, make sure you get the signature of the parents on the document and give them a copy of the signed report at pick up.

And most importantly, remember to retain a copy of the report for your own records and keep it filed away safely with the child’s documents.

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