Dealing With Emergencies
Safety is always an issue that is uppermost in the minds of daycare providers. No matter whether the care they provide is from a small home-base, an exclusive private center, or from a local community center, providers worry about whether they have the wherewithal to compete with the newest technology in use by the largest centers and institutions. While there is some truth to the idea that technology can provide cutting edge performance, there is still much a smaller daycare center can do to keep their charges safe.
Of course, it's difficult to think about these issues. It's frightening to think that someone would try to come into a center and harm innocent children, but it's better to have foresight and make provisions than to fail and regret that failure forever. Once you have some safety measures in place, you will feel more self-confident and the children under your care will benefit from your calm self-assurance.
Start by having an emergency plan at the ready. Most daycare centers have drawn up plans on coping with natural disasters such as fires or tornados, but few have any contingency plans for tragedies of a criminal nature.
In 2006, Carl Roberts IV chose to hit on the one-room West Nickel Mines School because he knew that the school would never suspect it could end up the victim of a homicidal maniac. He also knew the school had no security measures in place and that it would be many hours before any incident would be reported to the police. Roberts shot himself and 5 Amish girls aged 6-13 because he was angry at the death of his premature infant son.
The lesson learned from this tragedy is to make sure to have a course of action at the ready and to ensure that all are aware of that plan (parents, students, and teachers) and know how to play their parts. Make sure to coordinate your plan with city authorities. Big schools and institutions may have policemen or in house security people, but smaller centers can't afford such an expense. However, there is no reason that daycare center directors can't speak to the local police and sheriff to obtain practical advice about drawing up a security plan. These public servants are there to protect the public. After drawing up your final plan, submit a copy to all relevant authorities.
Once you decide how the plan will go, begin instituting regular practice drills just as you would for fire or tornado emergency procedures. This not only gives the teacher the chance to play out their roles and become familiar with them, but it also helps the children to get used to acting out their parts so that if Heaven Forbid, the worst should happen, there will be no panic and children will perform their roles with confident aplomb.