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Aug 27, 2012 3:54 PM by Greg Boyce

Grant awarded to study disaster childcare readiness

A statewide study of whether Colorado childcare centers are prepared for disasters was launched today with a grant awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The study, led by researchers at the Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis at Colorado State University will include an online survey of the more than 4,000 licensed childcare centers and providers in Colorado.

There are more than 340,000 children between the ages of 0 and 5 in Colorado, and on any given weekday, the majority of them are being cared for in licensed childcare centers or in homecare settings, according to Lori Peek, the co-director of the Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis.

"These childcare providers play a critical role in keeping children safe on a daily basis and in times of disaster," says Peek, "yet very little is actually known about how they prepare for disaster. Do they have emergency kits? Evacuation plans? Reunification plans to bring together parents and children after an event?"

The two-year study will begin with a review of state-level rules and regulations for childcare centers and exploratory interviews with directors of childcare centers in Larimer and Weld counties. Those results will help refine the research plan and improve the design of the statewide online survey. The results of the survey will be shared at a final workshop for childcare providers, which will also include sharing of best practices.

The program is funded by a $30,000 grant from the Denver office of FEMA.

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