Washington, D.C. - Hurricane Irene put disaster preparedness in the nation’s spotlight this weekend, and the upcoming 10th anniversary of 9/11 will do the same. In both cases, there is one constant in the chaos: Most states still fail to plan ahead for the safety of children in the event of a disaster.
Save the Children’s U.S. Programs has released its fourth annual National Report Card on Protecting Children During Disaster. Ninety percent of U.S. children live in an area at risk of natural disaster and terrorists can strike anywhere.
The report found that, ten years after 9/11, more than two-thirds of the country still does not require the four basic preparedness and safety standards for children in schools and child care facilities during a disaster. Only 17 states meet all four standards, with Connecticut, Kentucky, New York, Tennessee and West Virginia joining the list this year.
"If we’re not prepared to protect kids during disasters, we’re not prepared to protect America," said Mark Shriver, Senior Vice President for Save the Children's U.S. Programs. "Parents assume that their children are taken care of when they drop them off at school or child care. Many schools and child care facilities are not required to meet basic standards to protect kids should a disaster strike. For the 67 million kids separated from their families on any given day, this is unacceptable.”
For child care, the basic standards are: written plans for evacuation and relocation, written plans for family reunification, and plans for supporting children with special needs. For K-12 schools, the standard is a written multi-hazard plan.
The report graded all 50 states and the District of Columbia on four criteria of preparedness. The results are:
• Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia failed to meet all four basic preparedness standards.
• Twenty-one states still do not require all licensed child care facilities to have an evacuation and relocation plan.
• Twenty-two states still do not require all licensed child care facilities to have a plan to reunite families.
• Nine states still do not require K–12 schools to have a disaster plan that accounts for multiple types of disasters.
• More than half of all states still do not require all licensed child care facilities to have a plan that accounts for kids with special needs.
• Six states do not require any of the four basic disaster safety and preparedness standards for licensed child care facilities or schools.
To see how each state stacks up on protecting kids, and to read the full report, visit www.savethechildren.org/us-disaster-report-2011
About Save the Children’s U.S. Programs
Save the Children works to break the cycle of poverty and improve the lives of children by ensuring they have the resources they need—access to a quality education, healthy foods and opportunities to grow and develop in a nurturing environment. When disasters like hurricanes and wildfires strike, Save the Children is among the first on the ground ensuring the needs of children are being met.
Save the Children’s early childhood education, literacy, physical activity and nutrition, and emergency response programs reached more than 140,000 children and families in the United States last year alone. For more information, visit www.savethechildren.org/usa.