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Childcare Facility is First to Receive 'Child Safe Facility' Distinction

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/childcare-facility-first-receive-child-safe-facility-distinction_12283.mp3

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department awarded Little Angels Learning Academy with the first of its kind ‘Child Safe Facility’ rating. This new program is the first of its kind in Missouri. It came about as a result of a national study conducted by the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies that found Missouri ranked 46 out of 50 states for child care regulations and oversight. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann talked with officials of the program and has this report.

Ruth Ann Wood-Humiston is the founder and CEO of Little Angels Learning Academy. And she is also a parent. Wood-Humiston has a passion for children as well as education. She received her undergraduate degree in elementary education, has had a variety of specialized teaching experiences, and her doctorate in education. However, her quest to find quality child care really began when her first son, Gabriel, was born in 2000.

“I started looking for childcare for him. I though the ‘nanny thing’ was the way to go. And we had somebody come into our home, and that lasted about three months. I was working at the time in the public school. I went in and told to my administrator that if I had to put my son in a child-care setting I will walk out today. I will not do it,” Wood-Humiston said.

Wood-Humiston said that the preschool first began from her home and continued to grow until it moved into the facility where it is today. Wood-Humiston says safety and education have always been a priority, and she jumped at the chance to participate in the new Child Safe Facility program.

“We’re an accredited facility and that’s voluntary too. We wanted our parents to see that we are excelling and working to make our facility even better, and we have that designation. They can see that we’ve been through the process and we meet these guidelines, and we are a safe facility. Hopefully we will never have an emergency, but we do have a plan. It is a safety factor and a trust factor for parents,” said Wood-Humiston.

[Background sound of daycare]

At the award presentation, the kids shuffle in to watch.

Suzanne Seely is a registered nurse with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department. She says the Child Safe Facility program provides additional guidelines and standards before a facility can receive the special distinction. Providers must adhere to special emergency preparedness, immunizations, indoor safety, outdoor safety, and safe sleep practices for infants.

For example, one unique feature is the special emergency kits stationed throughout the facility. Each kit holds clothing and activities packed by the parents. In addition, Seely says these kits hold first aid supplies, food, water, blankets, and pop-up tents, in the event of an emergency evacuation.

“To our knowledge we are the only county in the state of Missouri that is implementing this program. There are similar programs in other states such as Oregon, California, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. But as far as Missouri and the surrounding counties go, to our knowledge we are the only ones implementing this,” said Seely.

Seely says that the Health Department has many other child care facilities that are beginning the steps to become Child Safe Facility providers. She adds that although this program is in the early phases, there has been a lot of interest and she hopes to see many providers take part.

Wood-Humiston says it’s important to be able to provide the best and safest environment for kids when they are away from home.

“Both of our boys have graduated from this program. They were here the other day when we were telling someone about our program, and we said that they are the whole reason we even have the childcare facility,” said Wood-Humiston.

For links to more information, you can find links below. For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.

Click here for the Springfield-Greene County Health Department

Click here for Little Angels Learning Academy