Childcare providers are vital members of many children’s adult network. Yet, while many studies have explored children’s reactions to natural disasters, information about how childcare providers prepare for and help children and families cope with disaster situations is sparse. Only three other studies, to date, have been conducted on childcare preparedness in disasters—one in California, one in Florida, and one in Pennsylvania.

This research project will focus on all-hazards preparedness in childcare centers and in-home childcare settings across Colorado. This is the first statewide assessment of its kind, and will focus on preparedness for natural disasters, technological accidents, terrorist attacks, and pandemic outbreaks.


  1. To map hazards losses from 1950-2010 in Colorado, and then to overlay the geographic location of childcare centers to understand which centers are in the highest risk areas.
  2. To conduct exploratory interviews with childcare providers in Larimer and Weld Counties to help inform later phases of data collection.
  3. To survey all licensed childcare centers and licensed in-home care providers in all 64 counties in Colorado.
  4. To organize a workshop where the results from this study will be presented to childcare providers, child advocates, emergency managers, researchers, and other interested members of the public. In addition to information sharing, this workshop will also encourage best practices in terms of preparing childcare centers for disaster.

This study will utilize the following methods of data collection: GIS mapping, secondary data analysis, in-depth interviews, and on-line surveys.


The absence of attention to preparedness among child care providers is surprising and frightening considering what we already know. Children are among the most vulnerable populations in disaster and infants and young children are at a particularly high risk of physical injury and death. There are an estimated 340,000 children age five and under in the state of Colorado, and estimates suggest that over half of these young children are in childcare settings on any given weekday.

In Colorado, these facilities are not required to be prepared for disasters. In fact, Colorado is one of 21 states that does not have standards for childcare preparedness. This represents a significant gap—and a potential major vulnerability—in disaster preparedness.

We foresee many positive impacts of completing this project.

  1. The project will involve a statewide survey of disaster preparedness among licensed childcare providers; the most comprehensive of its kind in any state. The analyses of the survey data will help identify strengths and gaps in terms of disaster preparedness among childcare providers.
  2. The final workshop will bring together diverse stakeholders around the topic of disaster preparedness for childcare centers.
  3. Sara Gill, M.A. student in Sociology at Colorado State University, will write a thesis as a result of this project.
  4. The larger project team plans to produce two final technical reports for FEMA as well as several associated scholarly publications.


Prelog, Andrew, Elke Weesjes, Lori Peek, Meagan Templeton-Lynch, Rachel Prelog, Sara Gill, and Andrea Akers. "Childcare and Natural Hazards: State of Colorado." Fort Collins, CO: Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis, Colorado State University. To access this report click the following links: INTRODUCTION, PART 1, PART II, PART III.








Project Funder: Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Preparedness Division, Region VIII

Principal Investigator: Lori Peek, Sociology and CDRA, Colorado State University

Project Team: Many students, faculty members, professional childcare providers, and emergency preparedness specialists are working together to complete this project. Below, we list the members of the project team.

Research Assistant Team: Sara Gill, Meagan Templeton-Lynch, and Jennifer Tobin-Gurley, Sociology and CDRA, Colorado State University; Andrea Akers, Anthropology, Colorado State University

Faculty Research Team: Craig Trumbo, Journalism and Technical Communication and CDRA, Colorado State UniversityElke Weesjes, CDRA, Colorado State University and United Academics: Journal of Social Sciences; David Abramson, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University; Andy Prelog, Sociology, Sam Houston State University; Michelle Meyer, Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center, Texas A&M University; Daniel Barnett, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University

Community and Professional Advisory Team: Dan Nyquist, Tim Deal, and Stephanie Poore, FEMA Region VIII; Rebecca Adams, Security & Emergency Management, Jefferson County Public Schools-R1; Linda Fellion, Early Childhood Council of Larimer County

Project Timeline: September 2012-September 2014

Statewide Summit:

Please join us on October 2, 2014 for the statewide summit on Colorado Childcare Centers and Disaster Preparedness. The event will be held at Colorado State University in the Lory Student Center, room 372-374.