Saturday, September 24, 2011

Are You Prepared for an Employee Emergency?

Picture this.....a brand new child care program with, of course, a brand new staff that met each other 2 days earlier at orientation. Twenty minutes after the program opens on a Monday morning, one of the staff members has a massive seizure. Of course, you call 911, but then what? The EMT's show up and want to know your employee's medical history, including allergies. Perhaps you can find this on the person's Health Assessment, assuming that you took the time to properly assemble your personnel files and you're not just flipping crazily through paperwork.

Then the EMT's ask where to transport your employee. Do you know your employee's hospital preference?

Once your employee is on their way to a hospital, it's time to contact a friend or family member and let them know what has happened. Who do you contact? Hopefully some of your orientation paperwork has an emergency contact number in it. If you have it, how quickly can you put your hands on it in a stressful situation?

If you haven't figured it out by now, yes, this scenario did happen to me. And, no, I was not prepared. I was the one running around like a crazy person. I had no idea of my employee's choice of hospitals. Fortunately, I had the name of an emergency contact person, but had to search around for it.

We quickly developed a Staff Emergency Information Form for immediate implementation in each of our programs. Of course, because this form contains confidential information, it is kept in a secure location and accessible by authorized personnel only. But, heaven forbid, if we have an emergency with one (or more) of our employees in the future, the information we need will be at our fingertips.

Are YOU prepared???

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Handwashing; Simple, But Oh, So Effective

It's only mid-September and, already, the crud is working its way through our program. Coughing, sneezing, and fevers--kids staying home sick and staff doing the same. I know we can't avoid it; it comes with the territory. However, there are steps we can take to minimize the spread of illness and keep our folks healthy.

Simply stated, proper hand hygiene (handwashing) is one of the most effective ways of preventing the spread of illness. (If you don't believe it, apparently you haven't seen the movie "Contagion"--whew; scary stuff.) Empower your staff and children to keep themselves (and others) healthy by knowing when and how to wash their hands properly.

The Centers for Disease Control has established "Standard Precautions" for reducing the spread of infections. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association, and the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education have joined forces to apply those guidelines to child care programs. "Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards; Guidelines for Early Care and Education Programs" can be found online at

The "Standard Precautions" include hand hygiene, cough etiquette, and safe handling of potentially contaminated surfaces. "Caring for Our Children" includes pretty much anything else you need to know about running a healthy program. Check it out.

I have spent the past week revising's Policies and Procedures for Handwashing, Diaper Changing, and Standard Precautions to reflect the newest recommendations. Those 3 products are this week's discounted offerings in the hope that we can help you keep your staff and children healthier this Fall and Winter.

Remember those famous words for your children (and stafff): "Wash your hands.......with soap".


Monday, September 12, 2011

Jail Cells Planned for 2nd Graders?? No!

Many years ago, at the start of my career, I was at an event where the guest speaker was the man in charge of prison planning for the state in which I was living. At the end of his presentation, someone said "But I still don't understand HOW you plan prison cells." His answer was very matter-of-fact (and bureaucratic); "It's simple. We take the number of at-risk 2nd graders and age them out 10 years." I was stunned to realize that, by the age of 8, we already had jail cells planned for children. There had to be a better way.

The good news is that there is a better way. High-quality child care can thwart that plan. The High/Scope Perry Preschool Project reported that, at the age of 27, participants who had been at-risk children and who had participated in a high-quality preschool were 5 times less likely to be "frequent offenders" than children who did not attend a high-quality preschool. Additionally, those who participated in the high-quality program achieved a 44% higher high school graduation rate and were 26% less likely to have received government financial assistance (welfare, food stamps, etc.).

The number crunchers went to work and figured out that the financial return-on-investment was about $16 for every dollar spent on the child care program. Michigan's "Fight Crime: Invest in Kids" program just announced their support of the decision of the Governor and state lawmakers "for the $6 million funding increase over last year to support high-quality early education as a critical strategy to reduce crime, lower prison costs, and save taxpayers money". Hopefully other states will "get it" too.

Of course, those of us who provide care, realize that the money is nothing compared to the positive impact on the lives of these children. all of you who provide high-quality child care....well done, thank you, and keep up the good work! It truly does make a difference.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"Back-to-School" and Routines

It's "back-to-school" time. Children who have been away for the summer, and new friends who are joining us for the first time, are making their ways into our child care program. Although this is an exciting time for many children, I do notice the crying as some of our young friends have difficulty adjusting to being with us instead of home.

It's not that we don't run a high-quality program or that the children don't enjoy themselves once they settle in for the day. It’s simply a reminder for us of why routines are so important in our program. Our routines show the children that there is order in this place. They know what to expect at what time and can feel much more secure about the day. Instead of constantly being “on alert”, the children are able to relax and move freely throughout their day because it has a framework that makes sense.

I have no doubt that, within a couple of weeks, these children will have no difficulty transitioning into our program each morning...because we have provided a predictable routine that they will have adjusted to and even thrive on.