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Building blocks for child care security.

When John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company decided to provide a child care center for its employees' children in February 1990, designing a security system was one of the most important considerations. That responsibility fell to me, the general director of corporate security.

The first step was to find information on what other companies were doing to provide protection for child care facilities. This was accomplished by visiting five other centers in and around Boston, where John Hancock has its headquarters.

By speaking with these centers' directors and security managers, the protective services division manager and I learned why they had chosen, or not chosen, to provide security. Some of these reasons included budgetary concerns, liability, and the need to make parents feel comfortable.

The John Hancock child care center was to be located in another John Hancock property, a nine-story building conveniently located near our home office in the bustling center of Boston. As we brainstormed potential problems and systems to prevent these problems, we surveyed the center site.

The center would be designed for 200 children and a staff of 52. It would be located on the first and second floors of the building, with a playground on each side of the building.

All relevant codes and regulations were reviewed, including Massachusetts Regulation 102, which covers all rules for child care facilities, and state building codes and city fire codes. When the review of codes and other information was complete, a project manager was hired.

The project manager visited three more privately run centers around the city and integrated the information he obtained with what we had learned. For the most part, the private centers had no security at all.

The project manager concentrated on the design of the overall security system for the center while the protective services division manager and I focused on the access control system. We put a high priority on access control for parents, children, and the center staff, and on CCTV to monitor the playgrounds and access through the front door.

We worked on a number of tasks simultaneously and met with everyone who would be concerned with the center or who could contribute to its security. This included the architects, who were told how security concerns would have to be addressed in their design.

The project manager reviewed the existing public address system to ensure that it would meet state regulations. He worked with the company locksmith to determine the types of locking devices we would need for each of the center's 12 exit doors. Electrical crash bars were chosen for all doors to the playgrounds, and PIN pads that automatically scramble the PIN each time the system is used were installed. This would prevent anyone from learning the codes by observing the teachers as they used the system.

Magnetic locking devices were installed on some of the exit doors because of fire regulations. These devices allow for remote control of access through these doors. All other doors, such as teachers' closets and doors that need to be kept secure, were individually keyed.

The building has four elevators. Two have access to the child care center. Working with building construction, a system was designed that would restrict access to these elevators to individuals assigned to the center.

Several photo imaging systems were studied. We had a program designed that would interface the ID system with card readers and relays.

Each parent was issued a magnetic card for use in the system. As the parent enters the center's foyer, he or she places the card through the card reader. As the individual proceeds into the building, the image of the authorized cardholder appears on the security officer's screen. At the same time, the center's inner door unlocks. If the image does not match the person entering, the officer can override the system and relock the door before the person can enter.

Because John Hancock is located in the inner city, it is imperative to monitor the playgrounds, which are at ground level and surrounded by protective walls. CCTV cameras were installed to tape coverage of the playgrounds and walls. To protect the interior of the center, passive detection is used for all areas that could be entered through windows on the ground floor.

The building already had a complete sprinkler system installed, which met most of the fire systems requirements. Smoke detectors were added in closet areas and electrical switch gear rooms. The fire systems are monitored in the center as well as in the main complex command center across the street.

As opening day approached, the center staff was hired. By state regulation, teachers were required to go through a special background check. Each teacher also received a two-hour security briefing, which included an overview of evacuation procedures and a review of security systems and related procedures.

Part of the security program included offering information and services to the parents and the kids once the program began. To do this, we began I-Dent-A-Kid, a program for all children whose parents wanted them photographed and fingerprinted. The prints and photos were given to the parents.

Pamphlets on safety programs are provided for the kids at the center as well as information on safety at home. A continuing awareness program ensures that we do not lose our security presence at the center.

As the security systems were installed and fine-tuned, procedures for evacuation, power outages, and inclement weather were developed. Massachusetts Regulation 102 requires these, as does sound security planning.

If the center is evacuated, the children will be moved across the street to one of John Hancock's other buildings. Therefore, we asked employees to volunteer to assist with this evacuation. We had an overflow of volunteers.

Once employees were selected to assist in an evacuation, their ID cards were reissued with a special symbol so they can instantly be recognized as they enter the center during an evacuation.

The security officers selected to staff the center were trained to care for small children and infants in an eight-hour Red Cross child care first-aid course.

The center has been in operation for more than a year, and 160 children are participating in the program, which includes a state-certified kindergarten class.

Individuals in the security profession are entrusted with many duties. None is more important than ensuring the well-being and security of our employees' children. At John Hancock, we continue to look for ways to refine our program and systems for the security of the children.

James W. Wells is general director of corporate security for John Hancock Financial Services in Boston. He is a member of ASIS.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:case study of John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co.'s security measures for its child care center
Author:Wells, James W.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Nov 1, 1992
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