Save the Children released report cards grading all 50 state’s ability to protect children during disasters. The results are troublesome, especially because of recent disasters. Remember the Oklahoma tornadoes, Midwest blizzards, Hurricane Sandy, Wildfires in Washington and Colorado and the loss of life? You would think that would be a wake-up call, but it hasn’t been.
In 2008, after Hurricane Katrina, the United States recognized how unprepared states were to protect and care for children. “Out of that experience, a presidentially-appointed National Commission on Children and Disaster led by Save the Children recommended minimum standards to protect children.” The standards include that:
All child care centers to have
- an evacuation plan
- a family reunification plan
- a plan for children with special needs
- that states require all schools to have disaster plans that account for multiple types of hazards
Back in 2008 28 states met those standards. Now, only 4 states do: New Jersey, Tennessee, Nebraska and Utah. Disasters often create specific needs for children. They are often separated from their parents when they need them most. Supplies, especially for infants and special needs children are not easily available. It is difficult to identify children. Mental health services and the ability to return to a normal routine may be postponed.
This is why Save the Children is working on “Get Ready. Get Safe” campaign to protect children during disastersto bring awareness to children’s needs. They provide links for adults to contact their Governer to update their state’s protection of children. Parents and Childcare Providers can get prepared by using a Disaster Checklist.
As a member of the Global Team of 200, I am honored to share my personal opinion and information about Save the Children Protecting Children during Disasters campaign.