In early 2016 the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) and FEMA Region V partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)–Region V, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), The Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications, the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago, and Office of Head Start to host a four-part workshop series about emergency preparedness for childcare center directors and employees. Head Start staff held sessions on January 29, February 19, April 8, and April 29, 2016. Forty-four directors of childcare centers in Chicago attended each session.
Partnering Up for Preparedness
Participants broke into small groups and discussed ways to better prepare their sites for emergencies. These included various storms and man-made disasters that might occur while children are on-site at the Head Start facilities. Groups planned escape routes and made action plans for how to use community resources. Groups also talked about ways to create and practice an emergency operations plan.
Sessions taught attendees general psychological first aid to help children and staff recover from a violent attack. An officer from the Chicago Police Department talked about the risks of community violence, ways to anticipate an incident and keep kids safe, and the proper protocols to follow.
All of the activities encouraged people to look outside their own childcare centers to partner with nearby hospitals, schools, houses of worship, and retail stores.
“The Head Start Emergency Preparedness Training program helps increase the resiliency of communities across the Nation,” said Marc Fisher, a regional emergency management specialist with HHS-ACF. “When we make sure that communities understand the importance of preparing for disasters, we can support the community in a time of need, assist in the recovery of that community, and save lives.”
For more information about ways childcare centers can stay prepared and better serve their communities, visit the Office of Head Start. Workshop leaders also highly recommend accessing the resources available at Ready.gov and Listo.gov, GearUpGetReady.org, and America’s PrepareAthon!
Workshop Series Prepares Childcare Facility Staff
- Child Care Center, School, College/University (15)
- Faith-Based Organization (2)
- Individual/Family/Neighborhood (18)
- Military (2)
- Non-Profit/Volunteer Organization (5)
- Private Sector/Business (17)
- Public Sector/Government (non-military) (22)
- Whole Community Event (multiple sectors participating) (34)