holders when adding children and family needs to emergency plans—can assist in making the outcomes more realistic and the tactics more viable.
Linda Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary and Inter-Departmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), provided an overview of child care in the United States and highlighted some of the preparedness issues for child care at the federal, local, and provider levels. Painting a picture of child care providers across the country, Smith explained that there are about 2.1 million child care workers in the United States, with an annual turnover rate of about 30 percent. Average salary for a child care worker is $21,000 per year, which Smith pointed out is poverty level for a family of three. Child care workers are 98 percent female, many have only a high school education or less, and half are eligible for public assistance. Roughly 12 million children in the United States aged 5 years old and younger are in child care. One million children are in centers, about 250,000 are in family home-based child care, and the rest are in some form of in-home or relative care. Child care takes place in neighborhoods, strip malls, and churches. It is for-profit and nonprofit. Child care is not a universal system, Smith stressed.
Smith described several examples of child care–related activities at the federal level. For example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released a recovery fact sheet on public assistance for child care services to help the public to understand what FEMA can and cannot do with regard to child care in the aftermath of a disaster.1 FEMA and ACF also sent a joint letter to state governors asking them to include child care in their state emergency plans.2 When child care is not included in the plans, the providers are not eligible for FEMA reimbursement, making recovery even more difficult.
At the local level, it is important for first responders to know where child care is taking place in their communities. To help with this, the federal government has funded some projects to map child care in communities, Smith noted. It is also important to back up the local data
1See http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/occ/fema_public_assistance_for_child_care_services.pdf (accessed October 28, 2013).
2The FEMA and ACF letter can be found at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/occ/resource/acf-and-fema-joint-letter-to-state-governors (accessed October 28, 2013).