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Child Care of Southwest Florida receives grants to install AED devices at early learning centers

By Staff | Apr 10, 2024

Child Care of Southwest Florida has received two grants to help install automated external defibrillator (AED) devices in all five of its early learning centers. Both the Claiborne and Ned Foulds Foundation and The Wawa Foundation provided the much-needed funds, totaling $11,000 toward the life-saving devices.

All staff members met at Lakes Park in February for a training session on the new AED devices, instructed by Adrian Santiago with Lee County Certs, in partnership with the American Heart Association. The training session was part of Child Care of Southwest Florida’s annual in-service day, which also included team-building activities, interactive games and an Alice in Wonderland theme.

“The entire staff at Child Care of Southwest Florida is so grateful to both the Clairborne and Ned Foulds Foundation and The Wawa Foundation for their life-changing funds,” said Chris Hansen, CEO of Child Care of Southwest Florida. “We are committed to the safety of our workforce, parents and children, and we know those first few moments of distress are critical. The thing that will save a life is access to definitive care, and defibrillation through an AED device is the only definitive care for cardiac arrest.”

The new devices were installed during February, American Heart Association Heart Month, at Children’s Garden of LaBelle, Joseph H. Messina Children’s Center, P.A. Geraci Child Development Center, The Children’s Learning Center and The Community Children’s Center. All five early learning centers will now be considered “Heart Smart” as part of Lee County’s new Heart Smart Lee initiative, and logged as part of the AED registry for the county. By Florida child care regulations, only one staff member at each center is required to be trained on CPR and first aid. But, all Child Care of Southwest Florida staff are CPR and first aid trained, and are now equipped with AED devices.

The installation of AED machines in all five centers was imperative to Hansen. During his time as the chief of EMS, he implemented the county’s first AED devices on all firetrucks and coordinated the training of over 1,000 firefighters. He also spearheaded a Lee County initiative to bring the life-saving devices into more public spaces.

Each center is accredited through the National Accreditation Commission for Early Learning Leaders and is a Gold Seal Quality Care Program through the Florida Department of Children and Families. Additionally, centers maintain five-star ratings through the Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida.

To learn more about Child Care of Southwest Florida and its early learning centers, visit CCSWFL.org.