The National Environmental Health Association recently provided capacity building assistance and training to new members of the US Virgin Islands Department of Health - Division of Environmental Health. The goal was to equip health inspectors with the knowledge, tools and resources they need to perform inspections at child care and educational facilities.
Andrew Roszak, the Executive Director of the Institute for Childhood Preparedness was one of the instructors who assisted with the week-long training. Andrew was joined by Therese Pilonetti and Dave Banaszynski - environmental health experts from Colorado and Illinois who also served as instructors. Dave and Therese provided real world examples from their many inspections - and a few great 'war stories' along the way.
The timing of the training could not have been better, as parents, children and teachers are gearing up for the start of the new school year. The inspectors are seeking to establish a collaborative relationship with child care owners and operators - and spent two days on-site, learning more about the daily operations, challenges and unique situations that early childhood professionals face.
As child care programs in the US Virgin Islands and across the country prepare to start the new school year, it is important to ensure our programs are as safe as possible. Here are a few tips to prevent commonly-cited violations in child care:
Ensure chemicals and medications are properly stored and away from children
Clean your fridge - ensure all expired food is thrown away
Label your cleaning supplies and spray bottles
Follow the directions on cleaning supplies - especially those that are used for disinfecting surfaces
Ensure all hand washing stations are properly supplied with soap, paper towels, etc.
Make sure all power outlets are covered
Provide refresher training for staff on the procedures to be used when a sick child comes to your program - or when a child gets sick at your program
Ensure first aid kits are stocked with supplies and supplies are not expired
Be sure your fire extinguishers are serviced and up to date
While inspections can be anxiety-producing, we encourage you to think about ways to engage with the inspectors. They are a wealth of knowledge and can provide substantial knowledge and assistance during their visits. After all, they are looking out for the well-being of the children - something we all support.
Photograph of the course participants conducting a site visit to a child care facility, to learn more about the daily operations of child care programs.
Andrew Roszak, Nikki Fernandes and a USVI Health Inspector pose to take a photograph after inspecting playground equipment. Many of the playground equipment was damaged in the hurricanes.
Andrew Roszak, Nikki Fernandes and a USVI Health Inspector pose for a photo at Happy Faces II Academy, a child care program in St. Croix.
Instructors from the National Environmental Health Association, along with personnel from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examine a child care program in St. Croix.
Photograph of the course participants, the child care program owner/operators and instructors.
Photograph of the course participants, the child care program owner/operators, and the instructors.