Arlington, VA – Today, the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) released Keeping Children Safe: A Policy Agenda for Child Care in Emergencies. In the wake of the recent disasters in the Midwest , particularly Iowa, where almost 85,000 children under five are affected, this report sheds light on the increased need for a national policy agenda to ensure the safety and care of all children during disasters.
“Nearly 12 million children under the age of 5 are in child care each week,” said Linda Smith, Executive Director of NACCRRA. “Many of the nation’s 2.3 million child care workers are untrained for disasters and few states require child care programs to even plan for disasters other than fire. To have a comprehensive and viable disaster preparedness and recovery plan in place for child care providers will ensure that child care is no longer an after-thought in the time of crisis.”
The Keeping Children Safe Report is the beginning of a campaign to raise awareness, change policy, and ensure that the child care and emergency management communities can work together to protect the nation’s children during a time of crisis. The Report explains and details many complicated child care and disaster terms and regulations. Additionally. it outlines current child care and disaster policies, local, state, and federal policy recommendations, and next steps on how to move this initiative forward.
“Children are particularly vulnerable during a time of crisis,” said Smith. “Many are immobile and unable to communicate the most basic information to rescuers. It is paramount that states take heed and develop and enact comprehensive emergency plans to safeguard the well-being of all children and their families.”
The Keeping Children Safe Report is a result of findings and conclusions established during a meeting held in November of 2007 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The meeting involved NACCRRA and more than 30 other organizations concerned with child care and disaster relief efforts. The meeting included presentations and panel discussions by experts from organizations such as the American Public Human Services Association; the American Red Cross; Mississippi State University; the National Guard; Save the Children; and Child Care Resource & Referral agencies (CCR&R) from across the nation. From the presentations and small group discussions, Keeping Children Safe: A Policy Agenda for Child Care in Emergencies was created.
Additional participants in the meeting included representatives from the following organizations: Agenda for Children; American Academy of Pediatrics; Center for Disease Control and Prevention; Knowledge Learning Corp.; Louisiana Department of Social Services Child Care Licensing and Regulatory Section; National Association for Family Child Care; National Black Child Development Institute; National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; National Child Care Association; National Infant and Child Care Initiative; Project KID; United Way for the GNO Area; Voices for America’s Children; and Westover Consultants. The meeting and development of the Report was supported by the Peppercorn Foundation and the A.L. Mailman Family Foundation.
NACCRRA has been actively involved in efforts to assist, educate and raise awareness about disaster efforts in the child care community. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, NACCRRA engaged in outreach efforts to help restore child care so families could begin to piece their lives back together. Additionally, NACCRRA launched Is Child Care Ready?, the nation’s first disaster preparedness initiative specifically for child care with the help of experts from organizations such as Save the Children; the federal Child Care Bureau; Mississippi State University; and representatives from CCR&Rs from across the nation.