Incident Reports: Documenting Accidents and Behavioral Issues


Where there are children, there will inevitably be accidents and behavioral problems. Even under the best and most attentive care, injuries and misbehavior can and do occur.

While childcare professionals must obviously make every possible effort to limit the risk of personal injury to the children under their care, some situations may not always be avoidable. When accidents, injuries and problematic behavior do occur, however, caregivers should document such situations thoroughly.

Why Incident Reports Are Important

Fear of professional repercussions or damage to their reputation can be a driving factor for some childcare professionals who choose not to document injuries, accidents or behavioral incidents. Rather than a poor reflection on a childcare provider, an incident report should be viewed as an indication of responsibility and competence. There are numerous benefits to the completion and filing of incident reports, from tracking and analyzing potential hazards to establishing a pattern for medical professionals when a developmental or physical disability is suspected.

A strong pattern of injury stemming from a single source is a highly reliable indicator of necessary changes within the premises. For instance, one child who is injured after tripping may be an isolated incident. If several children trip in the same space over an extended period of time, there’s reason to believe there may be a need for safety measures to eliminate an existing tripping hazard. Injuries resulting from safe, normal play with a toy or on a piece of equipment can contribute to a safety recall, if a pattern of injury is established by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Similarly, when a single child is the frequent victim of accidents, incident reports can establish a pattern which can aid in diagnosis of a physical or developmental difficulty. Balance, vision and perception problems can be difficult to diagnose in very young, non-verbal children. Incident reports documenting a history of falls or injuries, however, can help medical professionals to accurately diagnose such issues. Documenting misbehavior, violence or rule-breaking issues can also provide evidence which supports diagnoses of quantifiable behavioral disorders which may otherwise go undiagnosed for years. Rather than harming a childcare professional’s reputation, diligent reporting of accidents and incidents can be a boon.

Incident Reports and Legal Compliance

Childcare laws can vary widely from one state to the next. Within a single state, there may even be different regulations for childcare providers, depending on the size of their operations. Documenting any accidents or potentially problematic occurrences may be required by law in your state. It may also be a requirement of your insurance policy.

Should a serious situation arise as a result of a fall, injury at the hands of another child or allegations of abuse, proper documentation of any and all incidents offers a layer of protection which can be of invaluable assistance. While it may seem easier to ignore a minor incident, documenting it properly and supplying the requisite notification is imperative for the protection of yourself, your business and the children under your care.

Information to Include On An Incident Report

Among the many forms you keep on file as a childcare professional, an incident report template should be included. Local ordinances or state law may require you to use an official form, or you may be expected to produce one yourself. If you’re creating your own incident report forms, there are several pieces of information you’ll need to include or leave room to document.

  • Name of the child
  • Date of the incident
  • Time of the incident
  • Witness to the incident
  • Equipment involved in the incident
  • Cause of the accident or injury
  • Nature of the injury
  • Body part affected as a result of the incident
  • Information about any administered treatment
  • Full description of the incident

Parents of any children involved in an accident, injury or behavioral incident should be notified and provided with documentation at the time of pickup. Another copy should be added to the files of each involved child for future reference. By informing all involved parties of accidents or behavioral episodes, you can help to prevent future incidents while raising awareness about potential problem areas within your childcare facility.

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