Emergency response plans often fail to address the specific needs of children and their families before, during and after disasters. Children’s institutions such as childcare centers and schools are left out of the equation, and may not have the resources and capacity to provide safe, non-traumatic sheltering and displacement management services which include family re-unification planning.
RCRC Phase I [2015-2018]: Building a replicable model of child-focused disaster planning
During Phase I of the RCRC initiative, pilot communities in Putnam County, New York, and Washington County, Arkansas worked closely with NCDP and Save the Children to cultivate cross-sector local partnerships as well as develop trainings, community-wide exercises, and planning tools which empower and prepare communities, particularly child-serving institutions and emergency managers, to protect and care for children in the face of natural or manmade disasters. The model uses an all-hazards framework which proactively addresses a number of contemporary issues in safety and security. The goal of this pilot phase was to develop a model of tools, guidance, and best practices that could be adapted and replicated across the nation.
The RCRC Initiative’s achievements during Phase I were:
- Establishment of two pilot communities– Washington County, Arkansas, and Putnam County, New York – where Community Resilience Coalitions (CRC) focused on children were convened and worked to develop a sustainable, child-focused action plan to build community resilience, thus forming the basis of a replicable and scalable model. Community preparedness in multiple sectors, measured by the Community Preparedness Index (CPI), increased significantly in both locations in at least 5 sectors. For more information about each coalition please visit the links below:
- The founding of a National Children’s Resilience Leadership Board (NCRLB), composed of expert practitioners, thought leaders, and innovators from the public and private sectors. The board functions to promote awareness and visibility for this initiative, provide support and connections to increase the resilience of children at the community level, and advocate for policies that facilitate change at a federal level.
- The creation of the RCRC Toolbox, a curated collection of original and secondary tools to support communities seeking to build child-focused community preparedness in their own communities.
- Hosting a Congressional Briefing in Washington, DC alongside Save the Children, representatives from each pilot community, and bipartisan speakers from the Senate and House of Representatives. National legislators and key federal agencies were presented with community derived perspectives and best practices that will make communities better able to protect and care for its most vulnerable members, its children, and therefore more resilient in the face of natural or man-made disaster. During this 2018 visit to Capitol Hill, additional meetings were arranged with the White House National Security Council’s Resilience Directorate, the House Appropriations sub-committee on Homeland Security, and the respective congressional leadership of each community.
RCRC Phase II [2019-2020]: Applying the RCRC model to rebuild stronger communities affected by disasters
In Phase II of the RCRC initiative, funded by a second grant from GSK, NCDP aims to scale the model, best practices and tools developed by pilot communities to apply it in communities affected by hurricanes Florence and Maria in four new communities: New Hanover County and Robeson County, North Carolina, and the regions of Mayagüez and Humacao, Puerto Rico. Over the next two years, these communities will leverage on the work of existing disaster-recovery to integrate a child-focused approach to build back stronger communities.
Phase II of the initiative aims to achieve:
- The establishment of Community Resilience Coalitions in four communities– New Hanover and Robeson Counties in North Carolina, and leveraging the Children and Youth Task Forces set up after Hurricane Maria in the regions of Mayagüez and Humacao, Puerto Rico. These communities will implement the RCRC model by regularly convening community leaders and representatives of emergency managers and child-serving institutions, implementing the Community Preparedness Index (a baseline in the first half of 2019, and at the end of the project), developing and implementing Action Plans, and developing and implementing community-wide exercises. In each location the initiative aspires to connect with existing groups already focused on this topic and if they do not exist, these groups are assembled with the intention of building local leadership for sustainable action beyond the funding period of this grant.
- The development of new and adaption of existing tools from the RCRC Initiative’s Toolbox for the post-disaster recovery context, and national dissemination through the RCRC Toolbox platform. The RCRC Toolbox will relaunch in the Fall with a Spanish language version and tools therein.
- Continuing the work of the National Children’s Resilience Leadership Board to integrate local community recovery with national program officers and policy makers through the identification of national level mechanisms and policy levers to foster more effective child-focused disaster recovery.
- The establishment of a Peer Assistance Network (PAN) composed of members of the Community Resilience Coalitions from the pilot phase of the RCRC Initiative in Putnam County, NY and Washington County, AR in addition to the four new communities. The RCRC Peer Assistance Network will facilitate peer-to-peer guidance that allows people from throughout all the diverse RCRC communities to develop long-lasting and supportive relationships with like-minded professionals.