School is back in session next week for many children. A new school year means forms in multiplicity come home to mom or dad. Having emergency contact names and numbers on file means a parent or other safe adult can be contacted should your child need to be picked up from school due to injury, illness, or does not show up for school. Be sure to update any new home or work addresses and cell phone numbers immediately. This information is imperative when children leave the school campus for field trips.
Always let school officials know if there is someone who legally should not have access to your child. If you are sole custodian, be sure to give school officials a copy of your court or legal documentation to keep on file. Definitely list who can and cannot pick your child up from school or school activities. In cases of blended families the parentís and stepparentís home, work and cell phones should be included, usually in the order of who is the closest to pick up the child or easiest to reach during the school day. Always make children aware of who is on his or her emergency contact list and who has permission to pick them up in an emergency, and whom he or she should never leave with from school or home.
Arrange a code word and plan on how you will notify them if there is a change in who will be picking the child up. Having a specific code word for your family is a great idea. A code word is a word that you and your children will decide on in advance, that the person sent to pick them up will say to your child if there is a family emergency. A child never goes with anyone who does not know the safety code word, and should always try to verify with another adult, a teacher, the school secretary or even the parent personally that they are to leave school with the pickup person. People who will pick up your child from school on a regular basis do not need a code word, parents simply need to alert their child ahead of time.
If parents have any concerns about a school safety policy, he or she should talk to school authorities about their concern as soon as possible. The end result is we want our children safe, both at home and at school and in transit. Children should notify a safe adult if someone tries to take them out of school or off school grounds. The school should notify parents immediately of any safety issues that happen during the school day. Keep an updated photograph of your child, including information on scars, tattoos, birthmarks or other unique identifiers your child displays. Keeping this information up to date and close by will allow authorities to look for your child, should he or she disappear. This information is vital in issuing an Amber Alert in the community, and for making missing children posters.