WASHINGTON, DC - Hurricane Katrina has directly affected nearly 6 million people who live in federally designated disaster areas, including more than 1.2 million children under the age of 14. These families need food, shelter, clothing, and in many cases trauma counseling to begin to heal and begin their lives again. Parents of the more than 1.2 million children, almost one-third of whom are under the age of 5, may also require child care so that they can put their lives back together (i.e. clean-up their current or previous housing or business, find a more permanent place to live, seek social services or health services if needed, find new jobs if necessary, go to work, etc). The National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) is calling on Congress to provide child care assistance to all families who need it, who live in or have evacuated from disaster areas designated by FEMA associated with Hurricane Katrina. Parents need to have peace of mind of having their children in healthy and safe places while they rebuild their lives and communities.
Hurricane Katrina is an unparalleled disaster in this country's history that has left many families with children, traumatized at losing all possessions, homes, jobs and in essence life as they know it. The current situation is every parent's nightmare. For parents who need to clean-up homes or businesses damaged or destroyed, it is simply not safe to drag along children either physically or mentally. For parents who need to find work and to work, they need child care. They simply can't leave children home alone at the shelter or with complete strangers. Parents need to know, particularly after a traumatic situation, that their children are in a safe place said Linda Smith, Executive Director of NACCRRA. What we are really concerned about is that before this disaster, there was already a shortage of child care in many communities, already waiting lists in over half the states, already a mismatch between supply and demand. And, now, we have areas with large influxes of new families, who need child care help as well as areas of the country where the existing supply of child care has been eliminated. We are currently in the process of inventorying child care through our agencies in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama .
Child care is a critical support that families with children need in order to restore their lives. In the next relief package approved by Congress, sufficient funds to ensure that any family who lives in a disaster area or has fled from a disaster area related to Hurricane Katrina gets the child care help that they need so we do not further traumatize these families, particularly the children who have already suffered too much, said Smith. What we are concerned about is that states should not have to choose between their current working poor families and newly evacuated families, who both have great need for child care assistance. Congress must make sure that these parents receive child care assistance if they need it by providing additional resources, said Linda Smith, Executive Director of NACCRRA.
Smith also pointed out that the supply of child care in many of the communities taking in these displaced families is already stretched. Families displaced by Katrina are dispersed over more than 30 states most of which already have long waiting lists for child care. Child care resource and referral agencies are currently working in their communities to:
To understand the magnitude of the affect on children, NACCRRA looked at the number of children in the disaster areas designated by FEMA as a result of Hurricane Katrina. The following table shows the number of children in various age groups affected in each of the stricken states.
Demographics for Counties/Parishes Designated by FEMA
for Assistance to Individuals and Households
(Major Disaster Areas Designated through 9.14.05)
Total Population Under 5
Total Population 5 to 9 Years
Total Population 10 to 14 Years
Total Children 14 Years & Younger
Total Population In Affected Areas
NOTE : Demographics from 2000 Census
Counties in Alabama : Baldwin, Greene, Hale, Mobile, Pickins, Tuscaloosa, Washington
Total Population: 771,338
Parishes in Louisiana : Acadia, Ascension, Assumption, Calcasieu, Cameron, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Martin, St. Mary, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, Vermilion, Washington, West Baton Rouge, West Feliciana
Total Population: 3,109,601
Counties in Mississippi : Adams, Amite, Attala, Claiborne, Choctaw, Clarke, Copiah, Covington, Forrest, Franklin, George, Greene, Hancock, Harrison, Hinds, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Kemper, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Leake, Lincoln, Lowndes, Madison, Marion, Neshoba, Newton, Noxubee, Oktibbeha, Pearl River, Perry, Pike, Rankin, Scott, Simpson, Smith, Stone, Walthall, Warren, Wayne, Wilkinson, Winston, Yazoo
Total Population: 1,898,804
About Child Care Resource and Referral: Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies help families find, select, and pay for child care, as well as provide training and support to child care providers and help communities and states meet their child care and parenting needs. Through the Child Care Aware® program, funded through a cooperative agreement with the Child Care Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly half a million families each year are connected to their community Child Care Resource and Referral agencies through the national hotline and Web site, http://www.ChildCareAware.org .
About NACCRRA: Child Care Aware® is one of NACCRRA's many initiatives to improve the development and learning of all children by providing leadership and support to state and community Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies and promoting national policies and partnerships that facilitate universal access to quality child care. NACCRRA is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., representing a network of more than 850 state and local Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies across the country. To find out more information about NACCRRA, go to http://www.naccrra.org .