Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Partnership Helps Child Care Centers Better Prepare for Emergencies

Dec 22, 2015

Thanks to a partnership between two state agencies, child care operators now have an “easy button” to help them develop, update and submit emergency plans that provide protective actions for children in their care.  The web-based tool announced by Governor McCrory last week can be used to create plans for everything from fire, tornadoes, and floods to an active assailant.

The online application was developed by the Department of Public Safety’s Emergency Management Division and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Child Development and Early Education.

“This is another example of how state agencies are working together to protect the public, using existing technology, and improving customer service and government efficiency,” said Frank L. Perry, Public Safety Secretary. “DHHS staff outlined the requirements, while Emergency Management provided the funding, project management and determined how to match the requirements with a plan that people could customize based on their unique situation.”

Perry said N.C. Emergency Management began work to develop the tool about a year ago after similar plans were developed for licensed adult care facilities and dam owners. Since the new tool is a digital application, it allows child care owners to easily review and update their plans each year, as required.

“As the lead state agency for emergency management, we work fervently to reduce and manage risk for our most vulnerable populations and critical infrastructure,” said Mike Sprayberry, NCEM director.

Sprayberry said his agency is working on a similar online template for NC public schools.

The web-based planning application and template enables child care facility owners to easily meet new emergency preparedness and response (EPR) rules that took effect this summer. The rules require licensed child care programs, family child care homes and summer day camps be prepared to respond to the needs of children and their families during disasters and emergencies.  Child care facility owners use authenticated access to log into the web portal and answer a series of questions in order to generate an emergency plan for their facility.

“Nothing is more important than the safety of our children,” said Sprayberry. “We’re excited to offer this tool to help child care providers keep kids safe.”

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