New Child Care Law to Force States Failing Save the Children’s Disaster Report Card to Require Emergency Plans

Nearly a decade after Hurricane Katrina, federal action means 19 lagging states will finally require plans at all child care centers

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Director Deborah Holmes comforts students after an April 2014 tornado destroyed her Louisville, Miss. child care center. Credit: Amie Vanderford/Save the Children
Director Deborah Holmes comforts students after an April 2014 tornado destroyed her Louisville, Miss. child care center. Credit: Amie Vanderford/Save the Children

Fairfield, Conn. (Nov. 19, 2014) — Nearly a decade after Hurricane Katrina showed the nation how vulnerable children are to disaster, basic emergency planning standards for child-care providers will finally be required in every state.

Unwilling to wait longer for lagging states to act, Congress included three child-care disaster planning standards tracked annually by Save the Children in the bipartisan Child Care Development Block Grant Re-authorization Act of 2014.

Today, President Barack Obama signed the bill into law, instituting new educational, safety and health standards for child-care providers across the country.

“At last, it won’t matter in what state your children attend child care; they will be guaranteed the same basic protections from disaster,” said Kathy Spangler, vice president for Save the Children’s U.S. programs. “Millions of children are separated from their parents daily, so we commend Congress and the President for acting where certain states have refused to.”

Save the Children’s 2014 Disaster Report Card showed that 19 states still fail to meet all three child care emergency planning standards, which are based on recommendations of the National Commission on Children in Disasters formed after Hurricane Katrina.

The standards are that states require all child-care providers to have 1) evacuation/relocation plans, 2) family-child reunification plans and 3) emergency plans for children with special needs.

“Let’s not forget that after Hurricane Katrina, more than 5,000 children were left separated from their parents and it took seven months for the last child to be reunited with her family,” Spangler said.

In 2008, the year Save the Children began tracking emergency planning standards for children, only four states met all three child care standards. Today 31 states do. With the passage of the Child Care Development Block Grant Act, all states are expected to require the standards within the next two years in order to remain eligible for federal child care subsidies.

The states currently failing to meet child-care standards are Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Virginia.

Save the Children’s annual Disaster Report Card also tracks emergency planning for schools, where states are performing better. The 2014 report showed that only five states and the District of Columbia fail to require all K-12 schools to have written, multi-hazard disaster plans.

As a Head Start and home visiting provider, Save the Children also commended Congress for including a provision in the new child-care law that requires states to develop early learning and developmental guidelines for children from birth to age 5.

Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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