A Major Gap in More than Half of the States' Disaster Preparedness Regulations for Child Care Facilities Puts Many Vulnerable Children at Risk, Save the Children Reports.
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WESTPORT, Conn. (August 28, 2012) — Thousands of child care facilities in 27 states are not required to specifically account for infants, toddlers or children with disabilities or those with access and functional needs in their disaster preparedness plans, according to a new national survey released today by Save the Children. States have had days to prepare for Hurricane Isaac, but many disasters occur without warning.
"The failure by states to establish basic emergency preparedness regulations for the nation's youngest and most vulnerable children in school and child care puts many of these children at great risk should a disaster strike," said Mark Shriver, Senior Vice President, Save the Children's U.S. Programs.
"These are infants and toddlers just learning to walk, as well as children with physical, emotional, behavior and mental health challenges – kids in wheelchairs, kids with autism, children with supplemental oxygen or feeding tubes. All of these children obviously are at great risk in an emergency," said Shriver. "While states have made some progress in protecting the most vulnerable, it is unacceptable that 27 states do not require child care facilities to have a specific disaster plan to help ensure the safety and well-being of at-risk children."
The report also faults states for failing to require schools to create multi-hazard, comprehensive emergency preparedness plans.
Added Shriver: "Most parents assume that when they drop their kids off for the day, their children will be safe if disaster strikes, but our new survey shows that only 17 states require the basic emergency preparedness regulations for both child care facilities and schools."
According to the report, 68 million children currently attend day care or school. Among the more than 11 million children under age five who attend day care, more than 1.5 million are less than a year old.
Called "The National Report Card on Protecting Children During Disasters," the report assesses all 50 states and the District of Columbia on four basic disaster preparedness and safety standards for children in child care and at school. Three of the standards focus on child care facilities and the fourth is for schools.
The three child care standards call for written plans for evacuation and relocation and for family reunification following an emergency, as well as specific plans to assist children with disabilities and those with access and functional needs. The school standard calls for multi-hazard plan to handle a variety of different disasters and emergencies.
During the past five years, the report noted that the number of states that meet all four standards has increased from four in 2008 to 17 in 2012. The report also found that:
- Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia still fail to meet all four standards.
- Twenty-seven states do not require all regulated child care facilities to have a written plan that accounts for kids with disabilities and those with access or functional needs.
- Twenty states do not require all regulated child care facilities to have an evacuation and relocation plan.
- Eighteen states still do not require all regulated child care facilities to have a family reunification plan.
- Nine states still do not require K-12 schools to have a multi-hazard disaster plan that accounts for multiple types of disasters.
- Five states — Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan and Montana — fail to meet any of the preparedness standards for regulated child care facilities or schools, putting many children at risk.
"As a nation we have a moral obligation to protect the most vulnerable during disasters," said Shriver.
To see how each state stacks up on protecting kids, and to read the full report, visit www.savethechildren.org/disaster-report.
About Save the Children
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 quality education, healthy foods, and opportunities to grow and develop in a nurturing environment. When disasters strike, like hurricanes and wildfires, Save the Children is among the first on the ground, ensuring the needs of children are being met.
In the United States, Save the Children's early childhood education, literacy, physical activity and nutrition, and emergency response programs reached more than 185,000 children last year alone. For more information, visit www.savethechildren.org/usa.
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