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Animals in the Classroom


NOCAC Head Start/Early Head Start (HS/EHS) will ensure that only “allowable” animals will be brought into the HS/EHS Classroom and appropriate safety and sanitation procedures will be followed at all times.


  1. NOCAC HS/EHS follows the Caring for Our Children and Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) Day Care Licensing Rules.
    1. Animal licenses and inoculation records will be kept on file at the center.
  2. Visiting animals should be curriculum embedded.
  3. All pet cages will be cleaned/disinfected once a week by staff (latex gloves should be worn to protect staff). Make sure that the animal is not put back into the cage until it has a chance to completely air dry.
  4. Children will only hold the animal(s) outside the cage. If an animal “potty accident” occurs the children must wash hands and clothing immediately. Only staff’s hands are to be inside the animal cage.
  5. Animals cannot roam the classroom freely without supervision. When they are out, they must be closely monitored to ensure that any accidents are cleaned up with disinfectant immediately.
  6. Animals must have appropriate sized cages. Rabbits, guinea pigs and other gerbils need room to explore and use their large muscles and it is also important for children to see adult’s model humane treatment of animals.
  7. Animals can visit the classroom under certain circumstances
    1. A traveling pet show can visit a classroom if they are registered with USDA. However, special sanitation arrangements must be made if snakes and reptiles which can carry Salmonella bacteria are to be allowed in the classroom. The Center Manager and Health and Safety Manager will be utilized in the planning of such an event.
    2. Dogs and cats from outside organizations can only be brought in if they have no history of biting/scratching, have an updated rabies vaccination and children in the classroom who might be afraid are taken into consideration prior to allowing the pet to visit.
    3. Other animals with the exception of snakes, turtles and other reptiles can be brought in for sharing and for a limited time if they do not bite and hands are washed before and immediately after handling.
  8. If an animal bites a child, follow appropriate first aid and accident reporting procedures and remove the animal from the classroom immediately. In order to avoid a bite, be sure to follow these guidelines:
    1. Talk about how to handle animals (or not to handle) prior to introducing the classroom pet
    2. Teach animal safety – Children need to be well supervised when handling animals. Sometimes children want to test limits with animals or they are unaware of how big and strong they are in comparison with a small animal. In either case, an overzealous squeeze or shake may lead to a painful bite.
    3. Staff and children’s hands must be washed prior to handling an animal. The smell of food may invite an animal to bite.

Forms and Additional Guidance:

This policy complies with the following

Head Start Program Performance Standard:    5101:2-12-12(C)(2)
ODJFS Child Care Manual:    
CACFP Regulation:    
Caring for Our Children:    
Other Sources:    


Effective Date:   8/7/17 Reviewed Date:   6/8/22
Approved By Policy Council:   8/7/17 Revision Approved By Policy Council:    
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