Emergency prepardness in childcare centers podcast header

Emergency preparedness in childcare centers [Podcast]

This week on The Preschool Podcast we are honored to welcome back Andrew Roszak, Executive Director at the Institute for Childhood Preparedness. Andrew founded this company after decades of being a first responder. He noticed that there are so many resources for colleges, businesses, high schools, and elementary schools. But these were lacking for early childhood education.

If you have seen one early childhood program, you have seen one, they are all so different and need varied support.

Andrew Roszak

There is no one size fits all approach, safety and security should not be seen as checking a box. Educators and licensors are not experts at emergency preparedness. There is not adequate training, we see people filling out forms and policies to check a box that they “have a plan”. However, no one checks if the plan is operational. We need to switch to focus plans and drills that are about the educators and the children, not about the regulators. Educators need to practice and become familiar with emergency plans.

During the emergency is not the time to develop your plan. The plan needs to be put in place for Directors, educators, and children to have confidence to move quickly from response to recovery in an emergency.

How to practice emergency preparedness in a cost-effective way

Currently, what gets measured is what gets done. Those required drills are opportunities to challenge your team and yourself to ensure everyone knows what to do and feels empowered.

  • Take drills seriously and change them up
  • Make sure windows, doors, and locks all work properly
  • Have a staff member lead your drill and give them a new experience. There is always a chance the Director will not be there in the event of an emergency
  • Leverage what you have to do but make it fun, exciting and add challenges

Some current trends we are seeing are staff turnover and having to continue to train new staff, along with an uptick in violence and crime.

For every unemployed individual, there are 2.5 jobs available.

We need to be vigilant and aware of our surroundings. Empower your team and parents to do the same and keep everyone informed if they see something off.

Podcast Transcript

Andrew ROSZAK:

It’s not just early-childhood, it’s having this conversation. It’s really everybody about, “How do I quantify that dollar invested in preparedness? How do I get my return on investment?”

Ron SPREEUWENBERG: 

Andrew, welcome to the Preschool Podcast!

ROSZAK:

Oh, thanks so much, Ron. It’s great to be back with you!

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Wonderful having back with us Andrew Roszak. He’s executive director at the Institute for Childhood Preparedness. We chatted with him right at the onset of the [Covid-19] pandemic. Hopefully we’re feeling like we’re more at the end of that pandemic now, so figured it would be good to check in with Andrew on all things related to emergency preparedness and safety and security in your childcare programs. Andrew, great to have you back. For those folks who weren’t able to join us last time, perhaps you could give us a little bit more information about your background?

ROSZAK:

Sure, absolutely. It’s great to be here. And hello to everybody, always a joy to be with you. So, my name is Andy Roszak. I founded the Institute for Childhood Preparedness in 2018. And I did that after many, many decades of being a first responder. I was a firefighter paramedic in the Chicagoland area for many years. After I left the fire department, I went to law school. So, I am a practicing attorney, as well.

And I’ve been working on emergency preparedness issues for my whole career. I was the senior preparedness advisor for Super Bowl 46, supporting those efforts in Indianapolis. I was a senior public health advisor for the US Department of Health and Human Services. And I was the senior director of pandemic preparedness, emergency response and environmental health at the National Association of County and City Health Officials, where I worked with the CDC [Center for Disease Control] and the 3,100 health departments in the United States to better increase preparedness at the local level.

Ron, I started in early-childhood in 2015. I was the senior director of emergency preparedness at Childcare Aware of America. And I’ve just been loving, working with all of our friends and colleagues in the early-childhood field. There’s just so much to do to get everybody prepared. And I really enjoy it because our challenges here are just so unique. When you look at high schools and colleges and businesses, they’re interesting, too. But they don’t have that variety, they don’t have that diversity like we have in the early-childhood sector.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Very cool. And tell us a little bit more just about the Institute for Childhood Preparedness and what you do.

ROSZAK:

Yeah, so as we looked around, we realized there was a lot of resources that were devoted for, again, businesses, colleges, middle schools, high schools, elementary schools. But there was a real void in early-childhood. And if you start to think about it, it’s like, wow, these are some of our most vulnerable people that we care for every day. Many of them obviously can’t care for themselves. And it just kind of shocked me that there wasn’t more attention put on emergency preparedness, our ability to prepare, respond and recover from emergencies and disasters for those caring for children.

And we started the Institute because of this need. So, all of our programing does have that early-childhood focus. We work with our partners across the United States and Canada to develop curriculums and develop trainings and even come out to facilities and do risk assessments and security assessments.

And it’s just such a needed service because if you’ve seen one early-childhood program, you’ve seen one because they’re just so darned different. Some are in churches, some are in shopping malls, some are in standalone buildings, some are in government facilities. So, to have a group of experts that look at things from an emergency, a safety, a security standpoint and help out early-childhood is just so unique. And I think we do bring a lot of value added to our field in general.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Awesome, a very common theme in early-childhood education and childcare being a little bit overlooked in terms of getting the support we need here. So, great that you stepped in with the Institute for Childhood Preparedness. And I understand one of your goals is to kind of help change the perspective on safety and security as being kind of like a “Check the box, we met our requirements,” to something we’re thinking about a little bit more proactively and as a long-term investment. Can you talk a little bit about that and how childcare programs might want, why they might want to do that and how they might go about that?

ROSZAK:

Yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head. I mean, and I’ll first say here at the onset, I think it’s really unfair some of the burdens we put on early-childhood, right? So, I’ve been doing this work for a long time. I’m a trained professional in it – I know what emergencies look like, I know how to plan and respond and recover from them and whatnot.

But as you can, imagine early-childhood professionals, they’re not experts in this topic. And quite frankly, neither are the licensing folks that come out and regulate us. So sadly, what we see oftentimes is that, yes, many, many places – and in fact, every state in the United States –has requirements that you must have emergency preparedness plans and do drills and that kind of stuff. But there isn’t that adequate, really, knowledge transfer. There isn’t that adequate training to tell you what those things should be.

So sadly, as we travel the country and what we see is that people are more or less just filling out forms just to check the box. And then when the regulators come in, they just look and say, “Do you have a plan or not?” And it’s a simple yes or no. And there’s really no basis in reality. Nobody’s really saying, “Well, okay, you have a plan, but is this plan actually operational? Can you do this plan?”

So, I want to… and hopefully Covid has kind of helped this because obviously the programs that are doing really well and did well throughout the pandemic are the ones that had some planning in place. How do you operate virtually? How do you do staff shortages? How do you do shortened days? How do you notify parents? How do you deal with licensing and regulations? How do you get supplies and equipment? How do you deal with supply chain shortages? All these types of things.

So, at the end of the day, all this planning and stuff is great and we have it for a reason. But I think we need to shift the focus and realize that those plans and those drills and everything you do related to this topic, it’s really not about the regulator, it’s about you. So, in your absolute worst day of your life, if a disaster were to happen, you need those plans; you need to be thinking about those things ahead of time; you need to practice them; you need to become familiar with them; and you need to make sure your staff does the same. Because you and I both know, under a very stressful situation it’s not the time to be developing your plan.

So, while it’s great we have these requirements, I’m worried that oftentimes it gets overlooked. And I totally get it, there’s a million different competing priorities. But ultimately, those plans and those drills that you do are really meant to benefit you and serve as a tool and a resource for you in the event something bad happens to your program.

So, I would encourage folks to think less about this is as, “Oh my gosh, here’s another burdensome requirement that we have to do to keep our license,” to more about, “Hey, this is for us. This is in case something bad happens so that we have a plan; that we’ve thought through the plan; we know what to do; we have that confidence in what to do. That way we can move quickly from response to recovery and get things back to normal as quick as possible.”

So, that’s kind of where I want to see the investment conversation go. I want people to realize it’s more about investing in getting back open, investing in resuming operations, investing in that return to normalcy that’s so important after any disaster. And I’m talking very broadly, Ron. I’m talking earthquakes, fires, floods, tornadoes, active shooters, hostile environments, these types of things.

No matter what the emergency or disaster, I want to make sure folks have a plan. I want to make sure that your folks are trained and I want to make sure you know what to do. And it is very challenging in early-childhood because we have such a high turnover rate. So, there’s always that need to keep doing refreshing training, refresher training and making sure that the new folks coming in are familiar with your procedures and protocols.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Yeah, and I always find risk management is such an odd thing to think about in terms of the investment because, of course, it’s something we hope will never happen. And sort of the probability of it happening is lower. But if it does, it can be absolutely catastrophic. And so lots of times businesses do under-invest in things like emergency preparedness. And then it’s always the folks who have that incident happen and then speak out and say, “Hey, everybody listen. I went through this. I’m telling you, you need to be prepared for this. You need to spend the time on it upfront.”

ROSZAK:

Yeah, and that’s really the challenger, and we’ve dealt with this. I mean, even when I was at the federal government, we talked about this. How do you measure preparedness? Because every year, the country puts out millions and billions of dollars for preparedness. And we see a great example of the strategic national stockpile, which is supposed to be a cache of medical supplies and equipment that is there for emergencies.

And as you know, at the start of the pandemic, it was woefully underequipped. And it was very hard to find medical gloves and N-95 masks and heck, even normal saline, IV solution that we use in hospitals every single day. So, it’s not just early-childhood that’s having this conversation. It’s really everybody about, “How do I quantify that dollar invested in preparedness, how do I get my return on investment?” And as you mentioned, hopefully you never get the return on investment because hopefully you never go through an emergency or disaster. But for those programs that do, my goodness, it pays dividends for that little bit of time and effort it takes to get prepared.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Yeah, and the return, as well, is just knowing that you’re prepared mentally and otherwise and having that sense of knowing that you’re going to be prepared for whatever happens. You don’t know what’s going to happen, but you’re going to be prepared. And what are some of the ways that childcare programs can do this in a cost effective way? Because there is always challenges on our time, on our budgets. Any recommendations there?

ROSZAK:

Yeah, well, I think there’s an opportunity here to leverage what we have to do. So, as we say, what gets measured is what gets done. So, many of us are under requirements, whether it be monthly or quarterly annually, to conduct some kind of disaster drill, a fire drill, or something similar. So, those are perfect opportunities to really challenge your staff – and challenge yourself, to some degree – to make sure everybody knows what to do.

And too often I see these drills being done and every month they’re the same darn thing. So, we have a fire drill: “Every month, I get up out of my classroom, I go out the door, I make a right, I go down the hallway and I exit the building.” Well, that’s fine and dandy. But what if I can’t go out the door and go to the right? What if that’s where the fire is? How do I infuse that into my drills to make them a little bit more realistic and to put some challenges and some twists and turns on my staff?

So, a prime example: a lot of programs took advantage of Covid to remodel, repaint, retool all their classrooms. I was recently at a program – I’m not going to dox them and out them or anything – but I was recently at a program and we did a drill. And it happened to be a fire drill. And I said, “Okay, this door is blocked. This is where the fire is. What do you do?”

And this was the first time, the one teacher had been there 20, 30 years, the first time she’d ever thought about it. She goes, “Well, I guess we’ll have to use our escape window.” So, [she] turned around and went to the window. Well, guess what, Ron? Over Covid, the maintenance team had come in to spruce up the place and they had painted everything, which included painting the windows. So shockingly, we found out that the fire escape window that everyone was going to rely on was painted shut and she couldn’t get it open. And they’d been open for months.

So, that’s just one little small example of how taking these drills a little bit more seriously and mixing them up and really exercising the doors, the windows, making sure that you have locks, if you have locks on your playground gates, do they work? Do you have the key? Do you know the combination? Are they rusted shut? These types of things don’t cost us any money, but can you imagine if that was a real fire and we went to turn around and use the escape window and it was painted shut and nobody knew for all these months? I mean that’s just unacceptable in my book.

So, I would encourage you just to kind of mix things up a little bit. Too often we see the director is the one that’s in charge; the director is the one that’s making all the decisions; the director is the one that’s running the drill. This is a perfect opportunity to give some leadership and some experience to your staff because the odds are, maybe the director will be there that day. Maybe they’re out at a training; maybe they’re home sick; maybe they’re out running around doing meetings. Who knows?

So, put some of your staff in charge. Let them run the drill; let them be in charge; let them see what kind of decisions need to be made. And that way they’ve got a lot better sense of, holistically, what’s going on on the facility level. And guess what? They’re going to bring a whole different set of eyes and insights that may identify some gaps and some things that you never even thought existed in your plan.

So, I would encourage folks to kind of leverage what they have to do, make it more fun, make it more exciting and to give some folks a little bit of a challenge, rather than just, “Oh, gosh, it’s another fire drill. We just have to do this and get it over with,” because that’s really not the point of these things.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

That’s a great example that you gave with the very specific outcome that’s easy to understand. And also, I like your point about making it fun too, right? Getting people to think on their feet a bit, make it a little less routine. Really good tips, there. Now the last time we chatted, it was about two years ago – April 2020, I believe. A lot has changed since then, a lot has happened in the world. Are what are you seeing in your work out in the field? Any trends or things that you’d like to share or make folks aware of?

ROSZAK:

Yeah, I mean, there’s a couple really big trends. And I don’t know that this will be any surprise to folks listening, but maybe. I mean, I think the first trend is we’ve always struggled with workforce, even before the pandemic. That struggle continues. We just simply can’t get quality staff; we can’t keep quality staff. It’s been real hard and a lot of programs have suffered because of that.

So, I think the staffing trends – and I don’t know how it’s in Toronto, but I mean here in Washington, D.C. run, there’s restaurants that literally have modified their hours because they can’t get folks to serve or work in the kitchen or whatever. So, I know this isn’t just an early-childhood problem, this is a nationwide problem, a North America wide problem. I was reading in the paper yesterday that right now in the United States, for every unemployed individual, there’s 2.5 available jobs out there. It’s never been this way in the history of our country since they kept records.

So, staffing remains a big concern. I will say there’s been just a really noticeable uptick and – I’ve been watching Canada as well – a noticeable uptick in violence and crime in Canada and definitely in the United States. And that’s troubling. And I look at the various headlines every day. And we get a lot of intelligence and feedback from childcare programs across the country. We’re seeing a lot more violence and domestic and other type incidences occurring in close proximity to or actually at early-childhood facilities.

Just in the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen shootings at a childcare program in Nashville, Tennessee; we’ve seen some in Milwaukee; we’ve seen some in Philadelphia; all over the place, Florida. So folks are, for whatever reason, sadly, bringing violence to our front doorstep. And that’s scary. That’s something that we’re not really that accustomed to.

But as we look at just kind of the mental health of everybody of what’s been going on, we know that mental health concerns are at an all time high, as well. And sadly, I think this trend is going to continue. We saw… I don’t want to say a normal year because, I mean, that doesn’t sound right. But we kind of saw a normal year in 2019, as far as mass shootings. But then when you look at 2020 and 2021, we saw shootings way, way up. And that seems to be the increase. I’m guessing this year is probably going to be one of the highest on record.

And what’s troubling to me, Ron, is that historically, every time you look back at a break, whether it’s a Christmas break, a spring break, a summer break, whatever, in the week following, we have at least one mass shooting at a school here in the United States. So, that’s normal. And I’m thinking like, gosh, out of everything that’s happened in the last couple of years, a lot of programs have went virtual. A lot of stuff has happened, probably out of sight –online and cyber bullying and whatnot. I’m really, to be honest with you, I’m a little concerned about what’s going to happen this fall when everybody comes back in-person for the first time in a while. I’m just a little worried about what that’s going to look like.

So, I will say that’s a troubling trend that we’re seeing, just this increase in violence, this increase in crime, this increase in theft. We’ve had a couple cities recently just put out alerts because people are dropping off and picking up kids in the childcare parking lots have been targeted. And if you think about it, a lot of the times, heck, you’re just starting to start your day; you’re running the kid in; you’re running the kid out. Maybe you’ve got another kid in the car; maybe you’re just running in so you don’t lock your car. It’s really a prime opportunity for thieves to strike.

And there was an organized effort of folks. They were going basically early-childhood program to early-childhood program around 7:00 in the morning, 8:00 in the morning, 8:30 and just targeting them. And as they went in to drop off their child, they were hop in the car and off they went. So, these are things, again, that we haven’t really seen before. But we’re seeing it and we’re seeing it in many different places, it’s not just one jurisdiction. And it’s kind of all over the map.

So, I think we just need to be a little bit more vigilant. I think we need to keep our situational awareness up, keep our surroundings in mind, what’s going on around us. If you see people that are out of place, if you see vehicles in your parking lot that don’t look right or are unfamiliar, that’s something to take note of. And it never hurts to just send a nice reminder to parents, like, “Hey, you’re our sets of ears and eyes, too. And if you see something, let us know. Because ultimately we’re trying to keep your kids and all the other kids here at this program safe.”

So, those are really the couple of trends that we’ve seen, just the staffing issues, the increase in crime and violence and theft. And just kind of overall, I guess, maybe a little bit of anxiety. There’s obviously going to be some mental health fallout from all of this. And I think we just need to really keep that in mind as we continue to move forward. But just keeping an eye on individuals, making sure that we’re supporting them as best we can. And if you see something that’s out of place or you see somebody that actually really needs some assistance, making sure you step in and intervene.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Yeah, it’s interesting to hear you speak about some of those trends because certainly with crime and violence and these things, something that I’ve personally noticed or felt a little bit more anecdotally, but to hear from you, someone who’s a bit closer to the numbers, it does make sense. And certainly we’re very aware, and I’m sure our listeners are, as well, about the staffing challenges.

But also, as you mentioned earlier, maybe not something we necessarily think about in the context of emergency preparedness and the impact that staff turnover has on us being ready for an emergency situation. And I guess the regularity of those different practices of making sure everybody’s ready for that, if and when that does happen, and hopefully it doesn’t. Speaking of which, you, I understand, have a soon-to-be-released book on disaster recovery. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

ROSZAK:

Oh, I’m so excited for this book. This is the third book in the Preparing For The Unexpected series. So, the first book was Active Shooter Preparedness For Preschool. Very well received. Sad that we need that book, but I’m glad that we finally now have a resource that’s specifically for us in early-childhood. And that’s a book where I walk through a whole bunch of active shooter events that have happened. We look at lessons and then we apply them to the early-childhood setting. So, it’s really all about getting everybody prepared as possible.

The second book came out, Emergency Preparedness For Early Childhood. And with Covid and stuff, sadly, that one kind of got buried. So, I’m hoping we kind of do a relaunch on that and get that front and center. But that really talks about your emergency plans, your procedures, what a good plan looks like, groups in your community and resources you should connect with it are free – we love free.

And then the third book I was writing – and I started writing this, gosh, right before the pandemic. So, I think I don’t know, many of you probably know, but we had a contract to work in the United States, Virgin Islands and in Puerto Rico. So we had offices there at the health departments and staff there.

And our goal was to help early childhood programs rebuild, recover and get prepared for the future in case another hurricane hits, which, sadly, if you live in the Caribbean, you’re probably going to see another hurricane in your lifetime. So, what can we do to bolster the infrastructure, to get folks ready to learn lessons and then apply them elsewhere?

So, when I first started writing the book, it was all about what are we learning from hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and the Florida Keys and Houston, Texas, and some of the other disasters that I’ve worked in. And then, gosh, a couple years [later], fast forward, the book got a little bit delayed because of Covid, obviously, and just all the challenges that brought. And then my wife and I got pregnant with our first child, so she was born in January of 2021. So, that was very exciting and probably one of the biggest bright spots of the whole pandemic for us.

So, here we are. We spent the whole pandemic preparing for our firstborn child and all the fun stuff that brings – building a nursery and getting everything perfect and not seeing anybody, not going anywhere so we didn’t get Covid and all this kind of crazy stuff. We finally have the beautiful little baby girl and bring her home. And gosh, Ron, three weeks to the day, at midnight out of nowhere, our community gets hit by a devastating tornado and it destroys about 86 homes. And literally across the street and a couple of doors down, it kills three of our neighbors.

So, here we are, it’s like, “Dear god, we tried to do everything right. We’ve planned, we’ve waited for this moment that’s supposed to be one of the happiest moments of our lives, one that you’ll never forget, blah, blah, blah.” And we’re three weeks, still not even really understanding how to change a diaper. And all of a sudden the community gets hit, our house gets damaged, everything else.

And it just starts this cascade of events, which basically just spirals out of control: My wife used her whole maternity leave just dealing with all this, as did I. So, our house is basically uninhabitable, especially with a three-week-old. I’m not going to put her at risk and risk the house collapsing and all this kind of stuff. And then all this stuff because of Covid: You can’t get workers; you can’t get equipment. People are coming and going, some have masks, some don’t. I’ve got a three-week-old baby.

So, we end up living in a hotel for a few weeks. We end up going to temporary housing for a few weeks. All total, we’re out of our house for about 11 months. And so everything we had done, all the planning we had done to be as safe as possible and keep everybody Covid-free and all that kind of stuff, essentially goes out the window because now we’re being forced to live in a hotel and all this kind of crazy stuff that you just never think about.

So, I guess fortunately for the book, unfortunately for us personally, we lived through that. And now the book also has a lot of personal anecdotes about just our personal experiences of having a three-week-old baby, living through a natural disaster, working with insurance, the pitfalls of that and just all the challenges that brings. And all the players that suddenly enter your life who you’ve never heard of or never know about. And just kind of how to get better prepared for that stuff.

So, a wild year, Ron, and we’re really happy to be alive because again, our three neighbors, they got killed, they got killed instantly. And it could have been us. I mean, it was that close. So, it really kind of gives you pause and makes you reflect on what’s important and kind of think about things. But it’s been a wild year. We’re happy to be here, happy to be back and stronger than ever.

But I got to tell you, those 10, 11 months were some of the hardest of my life. And hopefully this book will help people. A lot of stuff in the book I didn’t know and you wouldn’t know until you lived through something like this. So, hopefully you pick up the book, you read about it, you get a little bit of a sense of what going through something like this is like and can help get you prepared in case you ever do have to go through this.

Because I got to tell you, it’s it was depressing, it was lonely. You felt like you were going through this by yourself. And certainly Covid didn’t help because you couldn’t really get the support system that you would normally get. So very, very challenging. But in the end, I think it makes for a much better book and I’m excited to have that come out here in the fall.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Yeah, that’s a crazy story. But to your point about the book, I think it really affirms the work that you’re doing and why it’s important. And it congrats on the baby girl. So, I guess she’s well over a year now, that’s wonderful.

ROSZAK:

Yeah, 15 months a couple of weeks ago. And just walking and talking and doing all sorts of fun stuff that little kids do. So, it’s definitely been a blessing. It’s not the way that obviously we would have thought about it or wanted it. But everything happens for a reason and we’re just so lucky to be alive and we’re just so lucky to continue on.

And it really does hit home. And seeing things, I guess more personally, I’ve worked on these issues and been on a lot of disaster scenes, of course, as a professional. But it’s a little bit different because at the end of the day, at the end of the shift, you go home, you have a chance to take a break and get a hot shower or a hot meal or whatnot. This is just months and months and months of never-ending stress.

And there is no respite; there is no break. It’s something that you think about before you go to bed at night and first thing in the morning when you wake up. So, it definitely does try on you. And we do talk about mental health and compassion fatigue and all that kind of stuff in the book, too, because I think there’s a massive mental health aspect to this, as well.

So yeah, I hope people enjoy it, I hope people pick it up. We’ll be doing some promotions around it when it comes out, again in this fall. But I think it’s a real needed resource. There’s, again, nothing like this on the market for early-childhood. And to learn the lessons from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in the Florida Keys and other places, along with the personal stories, I think it makes for a pretty powerful book.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Great. And speaking of resources, any other resources you want to share with our audience here on emergency preparedness, safety, security or anything else on this topic?

ROSZAK:

Yeah, I mean, there’s just so many cool things that are happening. So, we do a lot of work with our friends at Sesame Street. And they’ve been working on a whole initiative on coming together. And it’s really all about making everybody feel included. So, no matter where you are or what you look like or what you do, you’ve got a place and you do belong.

So, they’ve recently launched a whole bunch of new resources in English and in Spanish, talking about really how kids can learn and grow and celebrate who they are on the inside as well as on the outside. So, I would encourage folks to check out the Coming Together initiative from Sesame Street and Communities. It’s all free. There’s a whole bunch of cool stuff on the website, so I would check that out for sure.

We just wrapped up a bunch more resources that’ll be coming out soon with our friends at Autism’s Little Learners. So, we do a bunch of social stories. These are like little books that you can download free off our website and you can print out. And they talk about emergencies, but they put them… we have them in picture book format. And they put things into terms that kids understand.

So, it’s always a great idea, in my opinion, to show a kid about a fire drill before you actually do the fire drill. So, you kind of set their expectations. You get them a little bit familiar with what’s going on, why we’re doing it. So, this picture book walks kids through it. We developed it for kids with autism but I think it’s good for all kids, quite honestly, Ron. So, Autism’s Little Learners in partnership with us at the Institute. We’ve got a couple on wildfires, on tornados, on hurricanes, on the pandemic, on active shooter. And we’ve got a few more that are coming out in the next few weeks. So, keep that in mind.

And also give a big shout-out, I’ve been taking the Harvard University’s Early Childhood Leadership Program, it’s a certificate program. So, I’ve been working through Harvard for the last couple of years on that. And that’s just a really great resource for folks. If you want to kind of advance your early-childhood leadership skills and see more about kind of the methodology and some of the cool things that you can do to keep folks engaged and maybe reduce turnover or get your organization to that next level. I would encourage folks to check out that program, as well.

So, those are the three that come to the top. Obviously, we’re coming up on Mental Health Awareness Month, so we’ll be seeing a whole bunch of more resources for that, I’m sure. And I know you guys do a great job in your newsletter, keeping everybody up to date on those resources, too. So, Mental Health Awareness Month, definitely going to have a lot of great resources this year, as well.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Awesome, thanks for sharing all those. Sounds like some good things in there. And I’ll check out that Harvard Early Childhood Leadership course myself, as well, first I’ve heard of it. So, Andrew, great having you on the show. For those that haven’t been to your website before, can you remind our audience where they can find it?

ROSZAK:

Sure, it’s over at www.ChildhoodPreparedness.org. So, it’s all just one word, www.ChildhoodPreparedness.org. And we’d love to see you on the website.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Awesome. Andrew, thank you so much for joining us on the Preschool Podcast and sharing some of your tips and recommendations for emergency preparedness, safety, security, disaster recovery and your own personal experiences on that front, too. So, great having you on the show, as always!

ROSZAK:

Thanks, Ron. It’s a pleasure to be here. And everybody, stay safe out there!

Christie White

Christie is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at HiMama. She is passionate about children's development, parenting, and supporting the child care industry. She has been working to support child care centers with their events and marketing for almost a decade. In her personal life, Christie lives in Stouffville, ON with her husband Kyle and dog Tucker. She enjoys going for walks, baking, cooking, and watching reality tv!

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