Federal partners seek to bolster child care disaster and emergency planning

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, March 14, 2011
Contact: Kenneth J. Wolfe
(202) 401-9215

State, tribal and territorial grantees across the country are receiving help from HHS to develop comprehensive emergency preparedness and response plans specific for child care. The guidance issued today was prepared by HHS’ Administration for Children and Families, in partnership with the National Commission on Children and Disasters and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Nearly 12 million young children 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 National Commission on Children and Disasters (NCCD) recommended that states develop statewide 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.

“Child care is an essential service that must be provided during and immediately after a disaster,” said Mark Shriver, Chairperson of the National Commission on Children and Disasters. “This guidance is a critical resource to help states plan and respond effectively to the child care needs of families. I commend our partners at ACF and FEMA for making child care disaster planning a top priority,” Shriver said.

The Office of Child Care’s guidance provides a framework that outlines five key areas that states should consider when developing and updating plans:

1.Planning for Continuation of Services to CCDF families
2.Coordinating with Emergency Management Agencies and Key Partners
3.Regulatory Requirements and Technical Assistance for Child Care Providers
4.Provision of Temporary Child Care Services after Disaster
5.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.”

OCC Information Memorandum Emergency Preparedness Guidance:
https://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/occ/resource/im-2011-01.

For more information on the National Commission on Children and Disasters visit http://www.childrenanddisasters.acf.hhs.gov/.

###

Note: All ACF news releases, fact sheets and other materials are available at: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/news.