Health and Family Services Cabinet
Child Care Centers Urged to Practice Disaster Preparedness

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, January 20, 2009  
Contact Information:  Beth Fisher, (502) 564-6786, ext. 4012 or Vikki Franklin, ext. 3429  


Editors’ Note:  This is the second in a series of three releases to be sent pertaining to child care in Kentucky. Today’s release focuses on disaster planning at child care centers.

Having disaster and emergency preparedness plans and knowing how to put them into practice are important for child care centers.  
                                                      
 The Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) helps keep Kentucky’s children safe by performing inspections and investigations of child care centers. The OIG is responsible for certifying around 800 homes and licensing more than 2,400 day care centers throughout Kentucky. One aspect of the licensure process includes verifying that a child care center has documentation of practiced emergency drills and procedures.
 
 “In the event of an emergency or disaster, whether natural or manmade, good and well-practiced planning may be the crucial difference between a good outcome and a bad one,” said Inspector General Sadiqa N. Reynolds. “Parents want and should expect from a child care provider a plan of action in emergency situations so they know their children are safe and protected when not in their direct care.”
 
 By law, child care centers in Kentucky are required to have written records of practiced fire, earthquake and tornado drills. In addition, child care centers must have written plans and diagrams outlining the course of action in the event of a natural or manmade disaster. 
 
It is also important for child care centers to develop reunification plans for parents and their children in case staff and children have to evacuate a center because of an emergency. “I encourage parents to ask child center staff about drills and the procedures that a center follows during disaster situations, including a designated place to meet in the event the center must be evacuated,” said Reynolds. “Parents should never hesitate to speak up on behalf of their child regarding emergency safety matters.”

Tips for child care centers regarding emergency and disaster preparedness planning include:

· Develop clear and concise evacuation plans and diagrams.
· Speak with local or county emergency and disaster officials about preparedness planning information specific to your geographic area.
· Train all center staff on the appropriate procedures.
· Ensure that all children enrolled at the child care center practice emergency drills.
· Keep first aid supplies in an easily accessible area.
· Develop reunification procedures for parents and children.
· Designate a specific evacuation location.
· Review children’s emergency contact information on a regular basis for accuracy.
· Practice emergency drills frequently and keep records that document the names of children who participate in drills.
 
For further information about developing disaster and emergency preparedness plans for child care centers, contact the local child care council at 877-316-3522 or visit http://chfs.ky.gov/os/oig/drcc.htm.