Onslow County Partnership for Children: Providing child care in a family environment during a disaster.

We are a private non-profit agency that advocates and provides services for the healthy development of children, by building the strengths and capacities of families, care-giving professionals, and the communities in which they reside.

Emergency Personnel Child Care Plan

ems mom 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:

  • Onslow County of Emergency Medical Services (EMS )
  • Onslow County Partnership for Children (OCPC)
  • Child Care Resource and Referral Services (CCR&R)
  • Onslow County Administration
  • Onslow County Personnel Office
  • Jacksonville/Onslow Chamber of Commerce Project CARE
  • Family Child Care Homes
  • Community Child Protection Team

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.

Before Disaster Strikes

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 .

When the Emergency Operations Center is in operation

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.

Emergency Child Care Plan Participation Agreement

As a participant in the Emergency Operations Center Emergency Child Care Plan for Essential Personnel, an FCCH setting must meets the following criteria:

  • It operates in a safe and solid structure.
  • It does not operate in a flood prone location.
  • It will maintain a 3, 4, or 5 star quality rating.
  • It is approved to operate for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd shifts.
  • It has successfully completed the Community Emergency Response Training.

Additionally, participating FCCH settings agree to the following:

  • To accept children with special needs.
  • To maintain compliance with all NC childcare rules and regulations as outlined by the Division of Child Development.
  • To receive and administer all payments for services from families.
  • To accept odd drop off and pick-up times as required by the schedules of essential personnel during disasters.
  • To operate for several days during the operational stages of the EOC.
  • To terminate participation in the plan if the FCCH moves out of the area, and return all unconsumed materials in the disaster kit to the Onslow County Partnership for Children.
  • To participate in practice drills
  • To attend meetings (1-2 per year) for plan participants.
  • To maintain communication with plan coordinators during the operation of the EOC.
  • To be approved to provide transportation