Young children can present challenging behaviors in the educational setting. Head Start of Lane County is committed to using Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBIS) to promote social competence and address challenging behaviors. Child guidance and classroom / bus management decisions will promote  positive social skills, emotional literacy, positive self-esteem, and provide a nurturing, safe environment. Occasionally, young children present dangerous behaviors in the educational setting with the potential to injure themselves or others. In such circumstances, children may need more intensive interventions to maintain safety and help them learn appropriate behavior. 


  1. Staff will implement Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (see also Social Emotional Development Policy) to prevent challenging behavior and to teach emotional literacy, friendship skills, self-calming skills, and problem-solving skills.  
  2. General classroom guidance will emphasize giving children clear directions that are positively stated, using redirection, giving positive and specific feedback, and teaching classroom rules and expectations.
  3. Occasionally, staff may be unaware of a child’s potential for dangerous behavior, which may occur very quickly and with little warning. Each classroom will develop (or update) a Dangerous Behavior Site Plan before children return to school in the fall. The Dangerous Behavior Site Plan will include the following:
    1. A designated safe and appropriate place in the classroom and outside the classroom where an adult can take a child to be away from peers for the purpose of assisting the child to calm and self-regulate.
    2. A procedure for quickly exiting the children from the classroom away from the dangerous behavior. A staff member will remain with the child at all times; children will not be placed in seclusion (involuntary confinement of a student alone in a room from which the student is physically prevented from leaving. 
    3. Ways of quickly communicating to the rest of the team (including regular parent and community volunteers) with a signal word so that the plan can be quickly implemented without a lot of discussion. 
    4. A plan for when dangerous behaviors occur on the bus (see also, Child Guidance on the Bus) 
    5. DST will submit their plans to their RM at the beginning of the program year and update it as needed. For the safety of the child and staff, the crisis intervention for the child will not exceed gentle but firm physical guidance/direction, holding a child only long enough to get them to a safe space to calm down. 
    6. When dangerous behaviors occur, staff will contact the child’s parent to debrief the incident. Team (teachers, family, Regional Manager, Early Childhood Education Coordinator, Family Support Coordinator) will meet to discuss potential referrals for additional services.
  4. Challenging behaviors will be documented using the Behavior Incident Reporting System (BIRS) and in the child’s electronic file when appropriate. 
  5. Staff will share behavior concerns with families in a timely manner and will work with families to develop strategies and interventions.
  6. Staff will access Early Childhood Education Coordinator (ECEC) or EHS Specialist as needed for behavior observations in the classroom and classroom-wide behavior support strategies.  
    1. ECEC will work family and teaching staff to obtain a mental health consultation.
    2. If appropriate, ECEC will work with family and teaching staff to refer child for mental health services and/or special education evaluation. 
  7. Staff will utilize First Response Strategies (verbal, physical and environmental) when addressing challenging behavior. First Response Strategies are something a teacher does to prevent or de-escalate a child’s dangerous behavior. 
  8. When challenging behaviors persist or are dangerous to self or others, staff will work with family to acessaccess Behavior Support. If appropriate, referrals may also be made to mental health or special education services.  
    1. If a child’s behavior requires special support during the time of referral and assessment, the Regional Manager, and the ECE Team or EHS specialist will be included in planning the support. 
  9. Behavior Support may include a Behavior Plan. A Behavior Plan is an individualized, intensive intervention based on information collected by the family and teaching staff (BIRS, family interview, etc).
    1. Behavior Plan will be developed by the family, teaching team, and ECEC or EHS specialist with support from partnering agencies as needed.
    2. Behavior Plan will include: 
      1. Description of behavior of concern including triggering events and maintaining consequences. 
      2. Prevention Strategies 
      3. Replacement Skills that will be taught 
      4. Strategies for when the new skills or the challenging behavior occurs
    3. Staff will implement behavior plan and meet with team regularly to discuss progress and modify plan as needed. 
    4. Behavior Plan will be documented in the Behavior Plan table in the Education Domain of the child’s electronic file. 
  10. Rarely, a child may need use of physical restraint if there is imminent danger to self or others. Physical restraint is not to be used as a routine procedure nor without an approved behavior plan specifying its use (signed by parent). 
    1. Prior to using physical restraint, staff will receive Safety First training on how to safely implement and document LEAD procedures. 
    2. Staff will use Restraint Incident form to document and will notify RM and family the same day as the incident.
  11. The use of corporal punishment or seclusion is strictly forbidden. Use of such methods will result in disciplinary action.
  12. Withholding of food, access to the bathroom, or mental/emotional punishment including but not limited to name calling, ridicule, yelling, or threats is strictly forbidden. Use of such methods will result in disciplinary action.
    1. Food and/or physical activity may not be used as a punishment of reward. 
  13. Continual communication with parents and guardians must be maintained concerning the child’s behavior and ongoing documentation and progress reports are required. Staff will be sensitive to different cultural beliefs and values.
    1. Ongoing documentation may include Injury Log for monitoring, BIRS reports, updates to the child’s electronic file, and classroom observations. 
  14. Challenging behavior in the classroom can have a cumulative effect on teachers’ mental, physical, and emotional health.  Staff wellness and resilience is a priority and ECECs and RMs will work with their MH consultant to schedule time for teaching teams to access MH consultation time for themselves either individually or as a team. 
  15. Changing service delivery (change in bus services or scheduled class time): Rarely, a child may engage in behavior that poses a significant physical and/or mental risk to self or others. Only then, should a team consider a change in service delivery due to a behavior related incident.
    1. No change in service delivery will occur without prior approval from the Regional Manager in consultation with the Early Childhood Development & Disabilities Consultant and/or Health Consultant. Whenever possible, consultation should include Mental Health provider or ECSE service coordinator, if applicable. In the case of change of bus services, the Transportation Manager will be consulted.  
      1. Head Start/Early Head Start Director will be notified of all changes in service delivery. 
    2. Each incident will be considered on its own merit and not be generalized with other incidents by the child or other children. 
    3. Any incident resulting in changes in services will be followed up immediately with:
      1. A staffing/team meeting including any outside agency consultants working with the child, teachers, Regional Manager, family, ECEC or EHS specialist, Family Support Coordinator, bus driver, and program consultants as needed. 
      2. Development of a temporary behavior plan or modification of an existing plan to support the child while additional services are being accessed.
      3. The incident, behavior plan, and the team meeting will be documented in the child’s electronic file as soon as possible. 

This policy complies with Head Start Performance Standard 45 CFR 1302.21, 1302.45 and Childcare Licensing Regulation 414-300-0330
It was approved by Policy Council on August 2013
1995-2013.Head Start of Lane County. All rights reserved
Updated July 2017. November 2019. May 2021. July 2022

Reviewed May 2021 . July 2022