The Resilient Children/Resilient Communities Initiative (RCRC) builds on a model of child-focused community resilience planning that can be implemented nationally. Emergency response plans often fail to address the unique and specific needs of children and their families before, during, and after disasters. Children’s institutions such as childcare centers and schools are often left out of the equation and may not have the resources or capacity to provide safe, non-traumatic sheltering and displacement management services, which include family reunification planning. Studies show that barriers that prevent children from returning to a routine quickly after a disaster can delay the return to normalcy that kids need, and the long-term impact can be devastating. Quickly returning to a routine, even if it’s a new one, can improve a child’s recovery and simultaneously allow the family unit to address other recovery issues.

The RCRC Initiative aims to integrate lessons learned from research in post-disaster recovery into building child-focused community resilience. To do this, the project developed a replicable, child-focused disaster preparedness model. This model could prepare the institutions that serve children to respond to children’s unique needs during and after disasters. The compilation of tools curated and developed during Phase I of this project is available for public use by visiting the RCRC Toolbox website at


The application of the RCRC Initiative to the Kalinago territory in Dominica represents the first application of the Resilient Children, Resilient Communities (RCRC) Initiative outside of the United States. Dr. Thalia Balkaran is carrying out this research as part of her postdoctoral research for the Columbia Climate School Postdoctoral Research Program. She is supervised by Jeff Schlegelmilch, the Director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness.

The Commonwealth of Dominica is located in the Caribbean, one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world. Most recently, in 2017, Dominica was severely hit by Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 storm that left a path of destruction across the island.  Damage was estimated to be equivalent to USD 1.3 billion, 226% of Dominica’s 2016 GDP. Dominica is also home to the only surviving indigenous reserve in the Caribbean, the Kalinago Territory. The community was especially affected by the storm. Children are particularly vulnerable during disaster events. This research applies the RCRC Initiative to implement strategies to improve the community’s ability to meet the needs of children during a disaster.