Emergency Personnel Child Care Plan
In December 2003, in the wake of Hurricane Isabel, the Onslow County Emergency Management Services filed a report on actions taken by Emergency Medical Services, Medical Services and Human Services during the hurricane.
The report revealed the often-overlooked issue of how natural disasters impact child care arrangements. As the report stated: “During destructive weather most childcare providers closed leaving workers without appropriate childcare.”
Emergency Medical Services subsequently raised the issue with the Onslow County Partnership for Children, which convened a group of key stakeholders to thoroughly address all of the issues related to child caring in the midst of a natural disaster. The stakeholders included:
Generally, the policies for closing facilities in Onslow County align with the public school system schedule, which often does not align with the needs of those who have their children in childcare settings that offer more extended hours of service. Therefore, essential personnel cannot depend on traditional childcare to meet their needs when they are called to service during a disaster. Parents are then left to patch together services that may not be reliable and may not provide reassurance to children during a time when they most need it.
The convened stakeholders agreed that the best solution to this problem was to place children in family childcare home settings (FCCH), for the following reasons:
The child would be in a family environment during a disaster.
The family that operates the FCCH lives on site, so staffing is not an issue.
FCCH settings provide children with developmentally appropriate environments where they are appropriately cared for, including proper nutrition.
Every effort would be made to place a child within her home community so that she is likely to see other children she knows.
Essential personnel could meet with the FCCH provider in advance, to make sure that the match is appropriate and that her child will be comfortable in that setting.
Essential personnel will request a referral for childcare from CCR&R.
CCR&R will provide a referral based on the family’s needs from the plan participants.
Essential personnel will contact a provider regarding the enrollment process. CCR&R recommends that families visit programs before enrolling their child(ren).
Essential personnel who choose a program will “register” their child(ren) with the program. They will need to complete the typical information contained in program files (application, medical form, immunization history, signed permission forms, etc.).
CCR&R recommends that child(ren) visit programs to become familiar with the provider and the environment. This familiarity will serve to ease stress levels for the children during an actual emergency.
CCR&R recommends that providers periodically contact essential personnel who have registered in their program. Essential personnel who move away or change positions may not remember to contact providers .
Plan coordinators (staff of the Onslow County Partnership for Children) will staff the EOC and will maintain communications with plan participants throughout the event. Web EOC will be utilized to help maintain communications.
Plan coordinators will contact participants to learn of the plans of participating providers for the event. (Will they be in town, will they be able to participate during the event, etc.)
Essential personnel who have not previously made arrangements for emergency childcare will be able to receive a referral to approved plan participating providers.
Plan coordinators and/or essential personnel will be in contact with providers about their enrollment capacity and any needs they encounter. If the need for emergency childcare becomes great, coordinators will contact the Division of Child Development to notify them of the need.
Following the disaster, plan coordinators will contact providers for information to include in all reports.
As a participant in the Emergency Operations Center Emergency Child Care Plan for Essential Personnel, an FCCH setting must meets the following criteria:
Additionally, participating FCCH settings agree to the following: