Alternative Rural Child Care

  • Donham, Kelley J.;
  • Grafft, LaMar

It has been reported that 300 children die in the United States each year as a result of farm injuries. Another 23,000 receive disabling injuries. Many of these injuries occur because children play, or accompany their parents, in the workplace. In many instances, there may be no alternatives. This study was designed to remove children from the workplace by providing child care opportunities for rural residents.

A child care survey was conducted in Waverly, Iowa in 1992 by Wartburg College because of a desire by the business community to provide child care for their employees. While the survey did not address the specific needs of the farming population, it was a significant attempt at determining needs of workers for child care services. We began our project in Waverly (Bremer County) in 1993, as a result of the initial 1992 study.

Farmers have several biases against child care, and it was important that we dispel these before initiating the actual project. It was decided that safety awareness programs and child care education should be conducted in the area first.

Initial contacts in Bremer County included a licensed day care center in Waverly, the Cooperative Extension Service Family Field Specialist, and Wartburg College. Each of these contacts offered encouragement and cautious optimism for the Alternative Rural Child Care project in Bremer County. Subsequent contacts have been made with all agribusinesses in the county as well as schools, churches, day care providers, hospitals and EMS providers. These contacts were made in an attempt to garner com unity support for the project. Posters were left in each of these locations outlining the basic purpose of the project.

Media contacts have been made and news releases have been printed in each of the four newspapers. A farm safety series was televised in the area. We are currently working with two radio stations in the area also.

Farm safety demonstrations are planned for each of the community celebration days in the county. A survey of producers is also planned following the awareness portion of the project to gauge their ideas of both farm safety and child care.

While we are not convinced that child care will be used more than it currently is, the awareness of injuries to children should help to modify behavior in the area. This alone should help to reduce injuries, which is what we are after.

This research abstract was extracted from a portion of the proceedings of "Agricultural Safety and Health: Detection, Prevention and Intervention," a conference presented by the Ohio State University and the Ohio Department of Health, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

L.J. Grafft and K.J. Donham, The Univ. of Iowa, Iowa City, IA.

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