An open letter from Lynda P. Sanecki, instructor forNutrition, Health and Safety class, fall 2004.
The class assignment was to develop and outline an emergencyplan for child care centers and preschools. The design was openended, allowing students to develop their own resources and contentareas for research and study. It included a review of both theState of NJ licensing standards for young children and the NationalAssociation for the Education of Young Children'saccreditation guidelines.
Students were required to define all possible emergencies, the roleof staff in each situation, the materials and resources required todeal with these emergencies, procedures for updating pertinentinformation in their plan and conclude with a personal reflectionof the process. While some students were dismayed initially at thelack of specific structure or format, they soon discovered thefinal plan was quite complex and comprehensive, not easily definedby a simple outline.
When the class met to discuss their projects, with the idea ofdeveloping one master plan, they expressed their respect andfrustration for the project. While many in the class were currentlyworking with young children, this exercise reinforced thetremendous role all adults bear when caring for children. Studentsexpressed new respect for the supervisor who would have toimplement a plan in an emergency. While some did not initiallygrasp the complexities of the situation, this exercise gave them anopportunity to walk in the shoes of those who have to take on thisresponsibility.
In conclusion, we all agreed there was no "one size fitsall" approach. Common needs could be defined but theresponsiveness to any emergency came down to training, resources,the individual situations, and anyone's initiative in dealingwith the crisis. Each program working with young children needed todevelop an emergency response plan unique to their needs andresources. The participants came away with an increased knowledge,heightened awareness and a greater sensitivity to the complexitiesof both the potential dangers and possible solutions we all face inthe post 9/11 world.