Federal Partners Offer Guidance for Child Care as an Element of Emergency Planning
Report recommends that states develop child care disaster plans in coordination with state/local managers and agencies.
Grantees across the country are receiving help from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to develop emergency preparedness and response plans specific for child care. The guidance issued March 14 was prepared by HHS' Administration for Children and Families, in partnership with the National Commission on Children and Disasters (NCDD) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
According to HHS, more than 11 million children under the age of 5 are in child care each week. In the event of a major disaster it is critical to ensure children in child care centers and family child care homes are safe and secure and reunited with their parents. In addition, after a disaster, re-opening and rebuilding child care is a key element to recovery efforts and restoring the economic health of communities.
"This administration is committed to reforms that ensure that children are healthy and safe when they are in child care," said David A. Hansell, HHS acting assistant secretary for children and families. "This new guidance is a step in that direction by helping to ensure child care programs are prepared for emergencies and disasters and assisting states to provide the appropriate support to help families rebuild their lives in the aftermath of a disaster."
A recent report, released October 2010 by the NCCD recommended that states develop child care disaster plans in coordination with state and local emergency mangers, public health officials, state child care regulatory agencies, and child care resource and referral agencies.
The Office of Child Care (OCC)'s guidance outlines five key areas that states should consider when developing and updating plans:
- continuation of services;
- coordination with emergency management agencies and key partners;
- regulatory requirements and technical assistance for child care providers;
- provision of temporary child care services after a disaster; and
- rebuilding child care after a disaster.
"Children are a part of every community, but too often in the past they've been left out of emergency planning or thought of only after the initial plan has been written," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. "This guidance highlights the progress being accomplished to ensure that the unique needs of children are not only considered, but fully integrated into all of our emergency planning and coordination efforts."
Click here for more information on child care resources for disasters and emergencies.