Protecting Children During Disasters: America Unprepared

Posted by on August 2, 2010

“The most vulnerable Americans in the most vulnerable settings are made more vulnerable because of government inaction.”

Mark Shriver, Senior Vice President, U.S. Programs, Save the Children

This quote from a recently released document entitled, “A National Report Card on Protecting Children During Disasters,” pretty much says it all.

In fairness, the report reflects movement in a positive direction by a number of states on improving requirements for protecting children during disasters.  But according to the report, there is still a lot of work to be done by states:

  • Almost a dozen do not require K-12 schools to have a disaster plan that accounts for multiple types of disasters.
  • Less than a quarter of all states and the District of Columbia meet all of four basic preparedness standards.
  • Less than half require all licensed child care facilities to have an evacuation and relocation plan.
  • Less than half require licensed child care facilities to have a family reunification plan.
  • Less than two-thirds do not require all licensed child care facilities to have a plan that accounts for kids with special needs.

We also know from our emergency plan evaluations in many pre-K-12 school districts that even those states requiring such plans typically do not proactively enforce, verify, inspect on-site, etc. for such requirements.  They are, in essence, “good faith” laws with few “teeth” for enforcement.

Mark Shriver’s quote increasingly appears to apply to our federal, state, and local officials’ approach to school safety and emergency preparedness overall.  Their rhetoric says they’re committed to school safety and preparedess, but their budgets for these areas show the opposite.

Ken Trump

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One thought on “Protecting Children During Disasters: America Unprepared

  1. Ken,
    Thanks for the excellent timing of this post. We see too many pre-school and day care locations without any plans at all. These younger children are so vulnerable. And the feds, the states and local government seem to ignore this issue. Many of these sites are staffed by well-meaning and child caring adults, but simply don’t know what to do or where to turn for assistance, or lack the resources to manage these issues. Again, thanks for discussing this issue and I hope it is not the last time you shine the light on this potential disaster.

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