Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA) today announced the expansion of a disaster preparedness project for Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agencies in Midwest states. This project is one of the many ways that CCAoA builds capacity within the child care system in order to advance equity and to impact the quality of care for children and families.
Most recently, the project involved CCR&R agencies in Iowa, Missouri (Kansas City metro area), Montana and Oklahoma working to integrate child care needs at all levels and phases of emergencies. It also promoted cross-sector collaboration by ensuring first responders, secondary responders, emergency managers, business leaders and elected officials recognize the needs of children and the child care workforce before, during and after disaster.
Participating CCR&R agencies were the Iowa Child Care Resource and Referral Network/Mid-Sioux Opportunity, Inc., Montana Child Care Resource and Referral Network (now known as Raise Montana), The Family Conservancy (Kansas City, MO), and Child Care Resource Center (Tulsa, OK).
The project has enabled these organizations to:
- Understand the importance of being “disaster ready” and meet identified criteria to be considered disaster ready.
- Be equipped to offer emergency preparedness, response and recovery training and provide technical assistance to child care providers within their communities.
- Engage in creative collaboration with businesses, agencies, families, providers, communities and states to integrate child care needs into all levels and phases of emergency preparedness, response, and recovery.
The three-year expansion will build upon the successes and impact of the current project through an equity lens. For example, we know that underserved and vulnerable populations are disproportionately and negatively impacted by disaster in the short- and long-term; therefore, CCAoA’s project is aimed to eliminate barriers and challenges faced by those populations. CCAoA will also develop more advanced trainings and resources focused on children’s and families’ social-emotional needs and mental health.
“Caring for children is a big responsibility under any conditions, and it becomes an even greater responsibility when something out of our control happens, such as a natural disaster,” said Lynette M. Fraga, Ph.D., CEO of Child Care Aware® of America. “Child Care Resource and Referral agencies are a constant presence in local communities and build local resilience, relationships and expertise before, during and long after a disaster occurs. This project provides the training and resources that enable CCR&Rs to serve as resilience hubs that reduce, and possibly prevent, the suffering of people affected by disasters—especially those most vulnerable. The expansion of this project comes at a critical time, as many natural disasters are becoming more frequent and more intense as a result of climate change. These include severe, high-impact floods, wildfires, thunderstorms and tornados, which have ravaged communities in the Midwest and elsewhere across the country in the past year.”
Support for the project includes a three-year grant from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies (MACP). MACP made its first grant to Child Care Aware® of America in 2015.
Success stories from recent project participants:
CCAoA enhances the capacity of CCR&R agencies and child care professionals through subgrants, mapping assistance, partnership-building, training and technical assistance and other support strategies. Stories from some of our recent project participants below show how such assistance as part of this project has made a real difference for families, child care providers and communities across the Midwest.
Responding to Iowa Derecho
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, a strong derecho (a large fast-moving complex of thunderstorms with powerful straight-line winds that cause widespread destruction) swept across Iowa on August 10, 2020. Iowa CCR&R regional offices worked with state partners to quickly assess the impact to child care providers. Nearly 400 child care providers responded to a damage assessment survey, with 79% of those providers indicating that their facility was affected by the disaster. CCAoA provided GIS mapping to Iowa CCR&R during this time to depict areas of impact in relation to child care provider locations. CCAoA also helped CCR&Rs in Iowa leverage additional funds that enabled local providers to make child care equipment purchases.
Building Resiliency During the Pandemic
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, CCR&R agencies pivoted and enhanced their role within their communities by adding services for child care providers to access supplies, personal protective equipment and many other training, resource and support needs. One of the most common requests from child care professionals was additional support for the social-emotional needs of children. In response, CCAoA provided subgrants to CCR&R agencies in Minnesota, South Dakota, Kansas and Arkansas focused on identified social-emotional supports for children and caregivers. The project reached 1,675 providers and 28,643 children, including those living on Native American reservations, English Language Learners, and child care providers that are legally exempt from licensure.
Partnership with Emergency Management
With support from CCAoA, Child Care Connections, a CCR&R agency in Bozeman, Montana, strengthened its partnership with the local emergency management agency, Gallatin County Emergency Management. Because of this relationship, the need for emergency child care services was at the forefront of the community COVID-19 response effort. Child Care Connections and its emergency preparedness partners, including the local hospital, developed plans for temporary child care facilities for essential workers should a large outbreak and resulting shutdowns occur.