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State Emergency Plan Enhances Existing Child Care Protocols

A new guide will help Indiana child care facilities prepare for possible disasters.

Photo: Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

A new guide will help Indiana child care facilities prepare for possible disasters.

A host of state agencies and safety organizations have collaborated to develop the state’s first comprehensive guide for disaster preparedness for child care providers.

The guide offers direction for creating and implementing plans in case of natural disasters or other emergencies, including floods, utility disruptions, threats of intruders and lockdown situations.

A 2010 report from the National Commission on Children and Disasters prompted the federal government to push child care providers to start implementing comprehensive emergency plans. Providers around the state had expressed a desire to create such a plan, and many have already implemented safety plans of their own.

Sheena Nicholson, Director at Teddy Bear Day Care in Bloomington, said a state-issued preparedness plan would only add to the precautions her organization already has in place. The center has evacuation plans posted in the walls of each classroom, alongside emergency phone numbers. Teachers and children perform monthly fire and tornado drills, and the building is equipped with surveillance technology to prevent intrusions.

In addition, staff members undergo 15 hours of annual training required through the facility itself related to the health and safety of the children they care for.

“We have been geared towards what type of evacuation plan we’re required to have through our licensing consultant,” Nicholson said. “As far as having another guide, it may be a little bit helpful to have knowledge of. It would probably be used in align with what we already have conducted.”

Although Indiana’s guide is not the first of its kind to be released, it boasts a large amount of collaboration from outside resources, according to Nancy Morris, Emergency Preparedness Planner with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

“There have been a few states that have done something similar to this, but their information was very out of date,” Morris said. “Ours was very comprehensive because we brought a lot of various planning partners into the mix to help with this program.”

Project partners include the departments of Homeland Security, Environmental Management, Education, and Health, in addition to the Indiana School of Medicine, the Indiana Association for Child Care Resource and Referral, the Indiana Family Social Services Administration and Riley Children’s Hospital.

Indiana serves over 100,000 Hoosier children in more than 4,500 licensed child care facilities, including care centers, home facilities or faith-based ministry organizations.

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