During and after disasters, children and their families have unique and specific needs that may not be adequately addressed in emergency planning and response. As an example, studies show that barriers which prevent children from returning to school 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 can improve a child’s recovery and simultaneously allow the family unit to address other issue of recovery.
Every day, 69 million children spend the day at daycare centers or school. Despite this, these children’s institutions are often left out of the preparedness and planning equation. They may not have the resources and capacity to provide safe, non-traumatic sheltering and evacuation services, and critical short and long term support to aid in successful response and recovery.
Highlighting the Importance
Based on data from Save the Children’s 2014 Annual Disaster Report Card If disaster strikes, 21 states and the District of Columbia lack basic preparedness standards to protect children in schools and child care centers, and only 4 in 10 American families have a plan to deal with such an emergency. It took an astounding seven months to reunify the last child after Hurricane Katrina.
- More than half of US families have been affected by a disaster
- 42% of parents do not know where to meet their children if they’ve been evacuated. It took almost 7 months to reunite the last child with her family after Katrina
- Of every $10 spent in Federal Agency Preparedness Grants, less than one penny goes to activities targeting children’s safety
Building on Research
Studies show that barriers which prevent children from returning to school 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 can improve a child’s recovery and simultaneously allow the family unit to address other issue of recovery.
In one of NCDP’s seminal studies, from the Gulf Coast Child & Family Health Study (a five-year study of 1,079 households in Louisiana and Mississippi post-Katrina), the notion was explored that children are “bellwethers of recovery.” Meaning that if children are doing OK (supported, in school, getting needed services, etc.) then it is likely that the community is generally doing well in all phases of a disaster, particularly during recovery.