On the fifth floor of Education 2 North, past College of Nursing offices and all the way down the hall to a bright and open seating area, is a small group of offices that is home to a one-of-a-kind resource in the country: The National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education (NRC).
One of only two designated centers at the College of Nursing, the NRC’s mission is to improve the quality of out-of-home child care and early education programs by supporting child care providers and early educators; families, health professionals and early childhood comprehensive systems; state child care regulatory agencies; state and local health departments; and policy makers. The center houses a full text of searchable licensing requirements for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The NRC updates the regulations for every state on an ongoing basis and manages two list-servs for the Maternal Child Health Bureau. It also co-produces several publications, including a volume comprising a total of more than 650 standards for child health and safety. Currently, the NRC is placing resource content into social media applications.
The director of this comprehensive national information resource center is the College of Nursing’s Marilyn Krajicek, EdD, RN, FAAN. Krajicek is professor and chair of the Division of Informatics, Health Systems and Leadership at the college, and director of Nursing Leadership: Pediatric Special Needs program. She is a nationally known nurse educator in interdisciplinary education for care of children with disabilities and chronic conditions.
In 1995, Dr. Krajicek and colleagues successfully wrote the grant that was awarded funding from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Maternal Child Health Bureau. “We applied for the grant at the time the internet was developing,” Krajicek says. “Our proposal included putting all the information online, which we were successful in doing. Although an independent entity, the center has “lived” at the College of Nursing ever since. Through the cooperative agreement, the center’s staff is completing the second year of a four-year funding cycle.
Krajicek credits extensive experience in interdisciplinary work with landing the NRC grant. “We work inside and outside of nursing, as well as with other disciplines such as early childhood educators, psychologists, medicine, and legal experts. We collaborate with 10 technical panels representing multiple disciplines to develop standards for child health and safety.”
The NRC now maintains a leading website and is co-publisher of the recently released 3rd edition of Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Standards: Guidelines for Out-of-Home Child Care. The center partners with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association, and Maternal Child Health Bureau.
In 2003 the NRC also produced the 2nd edition of Stepping Stones to Caring for Our Children, developed to identify standards most necessary to prevent harm.
“Our goal now is to complete the 3rd edition of Stepping Stones by May 1, 2013,” Krajicek says. “Those are the benchmarks used by licensing and other constituents in terms of mortality and morbidity. The goal of this document is to support state licensing and regulatory agencies and other stakeholders in their efforts to achieve improved health and safety in child care,” Krajicek says. That shorter document will be composed of 137 standards.
The NRC comprises an interprofessional team of three full-time personnel, three part-time personnel, and two graduate students. The staff positions include an IT professional, librarian, program specialist, psychologist/evaluator, child care health consultant, public health consultant, and research assistants.