Save the Children Testifies at Texas State Capitol to Assure Children’s Needs are Met in Wake of Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey Children's Relief Fund

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Austin, Texas (Nov. 8, 2017) — Save the Children Senior Director of U.S. Emergencies Jeanne-Aimée De Marrais testified today before the Texas Senate’s Health & Human Services Committee during a hearing to address the state’s Hurricane Harvey response. Below is her testimony.

“Chairman Schwertner and esteemed Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony on the interim charge concerning the state’s response to Hurricane Harvey. Save the Children appreciates that Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has prioritized the issue of the impact of Hurricane Harvey on children during this legislative interim.

“My name is Jeanne-Aimee De Marrais and I am the Senior Director of U.S. Emergencies at Save the Children and it’s nice to be back at the Texas Capitol.

“I would like to thank Rebuild Texas and Governor Abbott and his staff for their continued support through the state grant, that supplements our private and foundational funding, that will enable Save the Children to continue to help children as they recover from Hurricane Harvey. The Governor and his staff have been supportive of our efforts since the early days of the response, and we look forward to working with the members of this committee in the days, months and years ahead to ensure all the needs of Texas’ children are met.

“Save the Children has been responding to children’s needs in emergencies around the world for nearly a century.In the United States, we have responded to every major disaster since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and have served more than 1.5 million children.Our experience has taught us that children are always most vulnerable when disaster strikes and they have unique needs to be addressed.

“Save the Children began working in Texas in 2008 after Hurricane Ike, when we delivered more than two year of psychosocial support programs across the Houston Independent School District (HISD). We have also assisted in state and federal efforts to serve unaccompanied minors arriving on the Texas/Mexico border, and ran child-focused preparedness programs, entitled, Resilient and Ready Communities program in the San Antonio and Houston areas.Save the Children is an acting member of the Texas VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster).

“Since Hurricane Harvey made landfall, we have supported children and families in shelters by creating child-friendly spaces, distributing essential supplies for children and babies, and providing psychosocial support.We are now focused on helping more than 1,500 child care and school recovery efforts, as well as launching psychosocial support programs in Houston and on the coast. We plan to help with Texas’ recovery from Harvey for at least two years, and we are hiring a local team to lead and assist with our long-term programmatic work.

“We hope to work with you on addressing two of the largest unmet needs. First, FEMA does not currently have authority to provide recovery assistance to private for-profit child care programs. These small businesses are responsible for most child care in the U.S.The majority of damaged and destroyed child care programs have received little to no federal recovery support, and we hope to find a solution at the state level to rebuild these facilities that provide critically needed services to children and families.

“Second, natural and man-made disasters frequently have widespread, deep and enduring impacts on children’s mental health. We ask that the state government provide more funding to assist with the mental health needs of children coping with disasters.

“Thank you again and we look forward to working with you.”

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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