Why are We Failing Children in Disasters?
“Each year, since 2008, Save the Children has assessed all 50 states and the District of Columbia on the emergency plans they require on four basic emergency preparedness standards for the 69 million children who attend school or child care centers nationwide. In 2008, only four states met all four standards. That total has risen sharply in recent years to 32 states, with three new states – Kansas, Oregon and South Carolina – being added this year.”
In line with recommendations in this report, on August 26, 2015, Firestorm will be offering an Interactive Virtual Crisis Exercise for schools to focus on critical decisions and consequence management in the event of a crisis. Learn more.
Three of the standards focus on child care and require facilities to:
- develop detailed, written emergency plans that cover evacuation, family-child reunification and assisting children with special needs
- requires all K-12 schools to develop a written, multi-hazard disaster plan.
According to a recently released report by Save the Children – part of a larger report – Still at Risk: U.S. Children 10 Years After Hurricane Katrina – only the District of Columbia and three states – Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota – still fail to require the minimum emergency planning standard for schools.
Save the Children reported that only 17 of the 81 recommendations issued by the National Commission on Children and Disasters in its 2010 final report have been fully met, with an additional 44 still a work in progress. The remaining recommendations – 20 in all – have not been addressed at all.
Eight states – Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Montana and South Dakota – have failed to require any of the three child care standards, according to Save the Children’s report card, while 33 states and the District of Columbia meet all three preparedness child care standards.
Additional states that currently fail to meet one or more child care standards are Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
However, states who have resisted the child care emergency planning standards will soon have a price to pay if they don’t change course. Congress passed legislation last fall that will require states to meet the standards in order to fully qualify for Child Care Development Block Grant funding.
- Establish Clear Leadership for Children in Disasters: Key federal agencies differ significantly in terms of responsiveness to children in disasters. Permanent focal points for children and disasters across all agencies and a permanent inter-agency coordinator are needed to ensure focused, coordinated efforts, reduce duplication and align resources on issues that must be addressed from multiple perspectives.
- Improve Inter-Governmental Coordination: A major challenge that remains is the wide regional variance in emergency preparedness for children and the need for increased coordination between federal government, state government and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
- Increase Support and Improve Accountability: Overall, the greatest current gaps in capacity to meet the needs of children in disasters arise from inadequate funding and accountability. Robust funding and strong accountability mechanisms are required to ensure that we as a nation are satisfactorily protecting children from disasters.
In line with recommendations in this report, on August 26, 2015, Firestorm will be offering an Interactive Virtual Crisis Exercise for schools to focus on critical decisions and consequence management in the event of a crisis.
This no-fee, national exercise will allow participants to experience a crisis environment, learn how and why of actions and communications, and see how other schools in the nation are responding to crises and disaster.
Who should attend?
Senior Crisis Team Members, Emergency/Safety Teams, Communication Team Members, and school leadership who wish to work together more effectively during a crisis or disaster. Or invite your Board to experience decision making in a crisis.
The Interactive Virtual Exercise will include:
- Crisis/consequence management overview
- Exercise Structure, Objectives and Assumptions
- Crisis Scenario: Series of Escalations
- What Do You Know? Interaction
- Hot Wash Self-Review & Crisis
- Management Maturity Model Analysis
- Next Steps and Resources
Family Communication Tips
- Identify Emergency Contacts: Know at least three emergency contacts, including an out-of-town contact. Keep this information on a card and store in a backpack or wallet where a child can easily find it. Create your card now.
- Program ICE Contacts. All family cell phones should have “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) contacts programmed into the contact list.
- Share Your Information: Provide all caregivers and schools with your child’s emergency contact information.
- Know Caregiver Plans: Ask child care providers and schools about their emergency communications protocol including alert systems.
- Pack Smart: Keep an extra phone battery or charging kit in your disaster supplies kit. Pack a battery-operated or hand-crank radio to monitor the news.