Office of Child Care Past Response Efforts
Child Care Resources for Disasters and Emergencies
The Office of Child Care (OCC) strengthened and expanded emergency preparedness and response efforts which initially began in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The devastation and destruction caused by the Gulf Coast hurricanes highlighted many areas in which the Federal and State government were insufficiently prepared to respond to the needs of children and families, especially in the area of child care. In response, OCC has broadened efforts to work with CCDF grantees to improve child care emergency preparedness and response planning as part of a sustained long-term technical assistance effort.
A primary goal of the CCDF program is to help ensure early childhood programs support children’s healthy growth and development; this goal becomes especially important in the event of a major disaster or emergency, as children are among our most vulnerable populations. Disasters not only create a greater need for child care financial assistance among families struggling to rebuild their lives, but also can substantially impact the child care provider community causing damage and destruction of child care homes and facilities. These are significant challenges for State’s and localities struggling to provide services to families and rebuild critical infrastructure in their communities. OCC has become more involved with our State, Tribal, and Territorial grantees to provide resources that can help meet these challenges and support the continuity of early care and education services.
The following summarizes key activities undertaken by OCC and in FY 2006 and FY 2007 in response to child care emergency preparedness and response issues:
- OCC completed a Program Instruction ( ACYF-PI-CC-06-01 ) to provide instructions on how to apply for waivers included in P.L. 109-148, which provided the HHS Secretary with temporary authority to waive certain provisions of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 1990 for States affected by the Gulf hurricane disasters and those States serving significant numbers of individuals affected by the Gulf hurricane disasters. Under this waiver authority, HHS approved child care waivers to Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas to access $60 million in funds for child care services in support of recovery efforts. The waivers lifted Federal requirements for State matching funds in order for States to draw down their full allotment of CCDF funding.
- OCC completed an Information Memorandum (ACYF-IM-CC-05-03) to provide guidance to grantees on the use of CCDF funds in responding to Federal or State declared emergency situations. Since funds are awarded to States on a formula basis, there are no additional CCDF funds available for distribution in the event of a Federal or State declared emergency. However, the Federal CCDF statute and rules provide States affected by such emergency situations with some flexibility to continue providing child care services despite disruptions to families and providers. This IM describes some of the options available to States and actions required to be taken.
- In December 2006, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) created the Office of Human Services Emergency Preparedness and Response (OHSEPR). This new office is tasked with implementation and coordination of ACF program and human services emergency planning, preparedness, and response during nationally declared emergencies. OCC has worked closely with OHSEPR to raise awareness among Federal agencies and national emergency management organizations about issues specifically related to the provision of child care services. In conjunction with OHSEPR, OCC has initiated a workgroup to develop an emergency preparedness and response plan specific to the CCDF program.
- OCC added a question to the FY2008-2009 CCDF State Plan Pre-Print requiring grantees to indicate whether they consulted and/or coordinated with their State agency responsible for emergency preparedness and planning in development of the State Plan for operation of the child care program. States also were asked to submit emergency preparedness plans they developed for administering child care and early development services. OCC will use this information to facilitate development of best practices and information sharing among States.
- OCC developed the Child Care Resources for Disasters and Emergencies Web site. The site includes a wide range of information and resources about emergency preparedness, disaster and emergency response efforts, recovery resources, and lessons learned.