NACCRRA Supports National Commission on Children and Disasters in Efforts to Improve Emergency Preparedness Planning for Children

October 6, 2010
Report

Commission Report Calls for Nationwide Policies and Regulations to Protect Children
Before, During and After Disasters

Arlington, VA – October 7, 2010 - The National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) supports the National Commission on Children and Disasters in its efforts to protect children in the event of a national emergency.  In a report delivered this week to President Barack Obama and Congress, the Commission recommends that all levels of government work together in developing a national disaster preparedness strategy to address the needs of children.  To better protect children who are in child care, the Commission makes specific recommendations to help child care providers be better prepared when disaster strikes as well as to help restore child care in communities recovering from a disaster.

“There are more than 11 million children under the age of 5 in child care every week in the United States and yet, this population is often overlooked in emergency preparedness planning,” said Linda K. Smith, Executive Director of NACCRRA. “We fully support the Commission in its efforts to better protect children in child care and are proud to work with Commissioners to ensure that before, during and after a disaster, children in child care are not left to chance.”

The Commission recommends that Congress require states include disaster planning as part of each state’s baseline health and safety standards for child care providers who are supported by federal funds from the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG).  In addition, for states, with Quality Rating Improvement Systems (QRIS), the Commission recommends that emergency preparedness, especially among providers who may be exempt from licensing and regulatory requirements, be incorporated into state child care rating systems.

The Commission also recommended that Congress authorize a child care emergency contingency fund to reimburse states, tribes and local governments to support: restoring child care infrastructure, providing temporary emergency child care (for example, at temporary emergency shelters)  and to meet the child care needs of affected families who might be displaced to a new community or another state.

“Establishing a contingency fund is really important,” said Smith.  “When Hurricane Katrina hit, there were pictures in the newspaper of children dressed only in diapers playing outside in the heat and the same mud through which FEMA workers passed by wearing hazmat suits. Particularly in the aftermath of a disaster, children need a safe place to be.  Whether communities are looking to restore child care programs or keep children safe, a federal contingency fund would make a big difference.”

NACCRRA’s Executive Director, Linda K. Smith, serves on the Commission’s Human Services Recovery Subcommittee and has been actively involved in efforts to assist, educate and raise awareness about disaster efforts in the child care community.  NACCRRA developed, Is Child Care Ready?, the nation’s first disaster preparedness initiative specifically for child care, with the help of experts from  Save the Children; the federal Child Care Bureau; Mississippi State University; and representatives from Child Care Resource &Referral Agencies from across the nation.

In November, NACCRRA and Save the Children will release a full report on disaster preparedness entitled Protecting Children in Child Care During Emergencies:Recommended State and National Standards for Family Child Care Homes and Child Care Centers and Supporting Rationale.

To learn more about NACCRRA’s disaster policy agenda, visit NACCRRA’s website at  http://www.naccrra.org/disaster

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NACCRRA, the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, is our nation's leading voice for child care. We work with more than 800 state and local Child Care Resource and Referral agencies to ensure that families in every local community have access to high quality, affordable childcare. To achieve our mission, we lead projects that increase the quality and availability of child care professionals, undertake research, and advocate child care policies that positively impact the lives of children and families. To learn more about NACCRRA and how you can join us in ensuring access to high-quality child care for all families, visit us at www.naccrra.org.