Compliance, quality, risk management, safety. These terms are often interchangeable when assessing adherence to a set of guidelines. It is obvious that when speaking of quality, my healthcare customers are always measuring everything they do to a standard and mission of increasing patient safety. Compliance, quality and risk management often mean safety to manufacturing and service clients also.
However, nowhere has this been more striking to me than when I was preparing for a meeting at an early childhood learning center.
A friend referred me to the director of a children’s center near my office so we set an appointment to get together and talk about their compliance needs. I did not have an opportunity to speak with her before the meeting so I needed to do some research and make some assumptions. Many years ago my wife served as a director of numerous early childhood learning centers under a corporate umbrella. I knew that when the state licensing auditor was coming around she was going to be tense.
So with this knowledge, I made some general assumptions and spent quite a bit of time looking at state licensure regulations and identifying opportunities to utilize mobile audit software to maintain compliance. After all, if a child care center gets dinged for non-compliance in certain areas they don’t just get fined, they get shut down.
As we walked around the center, I saw so many little faces. Some smiling. Some a bit suspicious of this new person in their environment. Peering in to the infant classroom the lights were dim and there was gentle music playing as some of the children lay peacefully in their cribs and others manipulated toys and objects on the floor with teachers.
As we moved through the school and I witnessed these young people playing and learning, I realized the prep I had done for this meeting was only a small blip on the radar for this establishment. Compliance at this early learning center was about one thing – maintaining a safe and nurturing environment for these children day after day.
I remembered that, years ago, when I sent my children off to be cared for during the day while I was at work it was easy for me. I was just sending my children to work with their mother, of course they would be safe. I never had to think twice about it.
The Things We Don’t Think About
Far beyond having child safety locks on cabinets and drawers, it takes an eagle eye to spot some of the hazards that are commonplace in any other setting.
- Cord drawstrings on window blinds have to be completely out of reach.
- Nothing can be left sitting in a sink and everything from crib sheets to sippy cups must be labeled properly and can’t be touching each other.
- Allergy lists must be posted at all times and food safety standards are extremely rigorous.
For many of my clients, compliance equals safety, and safety is the only thing on their minds all day every day of their professional careers. I am amazed at their dedication and the service they quietly provide to society. When you combine that type of dedication with the daily task of teaching, loving, nurturing, and caring for children; keeping them safe so that their parents can pick them up at the end of the workday as happy and healthy as when they arrived; well, I’m speechless.