WASHINGTON, DC - Today, the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) released Is Child Care Ready?: A Disaster Planning Guide for Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, which will be used to train child care providers on how to prepare for and recover from disasters. NACCRRA has also published a brochure to help parents ensure that their child care program is prepared for emergencies. The distribution of these publications is the initial step in the first-ever nationwide effort to prepare child care programs for catastrophes.
Across the nation, nearly 12 million children under the age of 5 - including 1.5 million infants under age 1 - are cared for in some kind of child care setting every week. Although many of the 2.3 million adults who work in child care programs have training for fires, most have no training in responding to any other disasters, including hurricanes, floods, or terrorist attacks. The NACCRRA-led planning initiative seeks to protect children, our most vulnerable citizens, regardless of the danger.
"Hurricanes Katrina and Rita made it clear that we have much to do to ensure that child care programs are fully prepared to protect children in the face of disaster," said Linda Smith, NACCRRA's Executive Director. "Children, parents, and entire communities depend on child care and its ability to withstand and recover quickly from emergencies. NACCRRA's initiative aims to strengthen child care programs so they can do just that."
Is Child Care Ready? serves as a guide for Child Care Resource & Referral agencies (CCR&Rs) to train child care providers in their communities, as well as to provide support during and after a disaster to providers and the children and families they serve.
CCR&Rs will train providers on when to evacuate and when to stay put; what kinds of critical emergency information they should have on file; and how to connect with local emergency agencies so that they are aware that the child care program may need special assistance during a disaster.
CCR&Rs will also use NACCRRA's parent brochure - What's the Plan?: Ask Your Child Care Program Before a Disaster - to reach out to families about the importance of asking their provider if he or she has a disaster plan in place, and knowing the what, when, where, and how of that plan. CCR&Rs will encourage parents to readily provide emergency information for their child, and to confirm that their provider has an identification tag for their child in the case of a disaster.
Through the nationwide planning initiative, NACCRRA and CCR&Rs will work with local, state, and federal agencies to ensure that child care services are integrated into emergency preparedness plans, as well as into funding guidelines for disaster relief efforts.
"By engaging all of the key players - including state and federal agencies, parents, providers, and CCR&Rs - in our initiative," said Smith, "NACCRRA will ensure that every child in child care is protected in the face of any disaster."
What's the Plan?, NACCRRA's parent brochure, highlights 10 questions that parents should ask of child care providers to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their children:
What's the Plan?, Is Child Care Ready?, and the disaster planning initiative are the result of a national panel - facilitated by NACCRRA - of early childhood experts who assisted child care programs after the hurricanes, 9/11, the Oklahoma City bombing, California earthquakes, and other natural disasters. NACCRRA and CCR&Rs will focus their initial efforts on those geographic areas most prone to disaster, especially the Gulf Coast.
To download a free copy of What's the Plan? or Is Child Care Ready?, visit www.naccrra.org. Printed copies of the report will be available next month for purchase online.