FEMA Funds Study of Childcare Disaster Preparedness
A statewide study of whether Colorado childcare centers are prepared for disasters was launched today with a grant awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The study, led by researchers at the Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis at Colorado State University
· Will be the first such statewide study in the nation
· Will be the first to study the preparedness of licensed homecare providers
· Will include an online survey of the more than 4,000 licensed childcare centers and licensed homecare providers in Colorado
· Will be only the fourth study of any kind in the U.S. of childcare center preparedness for disasters
There are more than 340,000 children between the ages of 0 and 5 in Colorado, and on any given weekday, the majority of them are being cared for in licensed childcare centers or in homecare settings, according to Lori Peek, the co-director of the Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis.
“These childcare providers play a critical role in keeping children safe on a daily basis and in times of disaster,” says Peek, “yet very little is actually known about how they prepare for disaster. Do they have emergency kits? Evacuation plans? Reunification plans to bring together parents and children after an event?”
The two-year study will begin with a review of state-level rules and regulations for childcare centers and exploratory interviews with directors of childcare centers in Larimer and Weld counties. Those results will help refine the research plan and improve the design of the statewide online survey. The results of the survey will be shared at a final workshop for childcare providers, which will also include sharing of best practices.
The program is funded by a $30,000 grant from the Denver office of FEMA, which will be presented to Peek on Monday, August 27, by FEMA Regional Administrator Robin Finegan in a ceremony at the Windmill Child Enrichment Center in Windsor. The Windmill childcare center was struck by a tornado on May 22, 2008. None of the more than 100 children and 20 staff members was hurt, in part because of a well-executed plan for dealing with emergencies.
“This is also the start of September’s National Preparedness Month – we’re just a little bit early,” said FEMA’s Regional Administrator Finegan. “This could be the day before a disaster. We urge everyone to be informed about what emergencies could happen in your area, have a family plan for what to do, have an emergency supply kit – and, if you can, get involved in helping your community prepare.”
Information about how to prepare for disasters is available at www.ready.gov.