Efforts Center on Restoring Early Learning and Education Programs, Supporting Emotional Healing
Hurricane Harvey Children's Relief Fund
Children at a child care center in Texas’ Coastal Bend area hold new books from Save the Children. The center lost books and other essential supplies in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Save the Children also gave the center a new computer and office materials. Photo by Angelica Cadavid for Save the Children.
Sara Neumann 203.209.6545 (M)
Jeremy Soulliere 203.295.5842 (M)
FAIRFIELD, Conn. (February 23, 2018)— Six months after Hurricane Harvey’s powerful winds and rain displaced more than 1 million people and churned a path of destruction that stretched 300 miles, Save the Children remains committed to supporting the ongoing recovery needs of the catastrophic storm’s most vulnerable victims – children.
The national leader in child-focused disaster preparedness, response and recovery, Save the Children is working to make sure Texas kids and families most affected by Hurricane Harvey have access to crucial early childhood education and afterschool services, and emotional support programming that helps them cope with the aftermath of the devastation.
"Hurricane Harvey’s floodwaters have long receded, but children are still recovering from the distress of having their worlds turned upside down," said John Bracken, Save the Children’s Texas State Director. "Many have lost their homes and access to critical services – like early learning opportunities – as well as their sense of security. Kids need time to heal emotionally to become more resilient and ready for the next disaster."
Save the Children has committed a team to Texas through August 2019 to support recovery efforts for children, families and child-centric institutions most affected by the storm.
The historic storm had a devastating effect on all aspects of life, including early learning, educational, afterschool and enrichment services. Save the Children continues to collaborate with local partners to help restore and improve more than 1,500 child care, early learning and education programs in Greater Houston and along the Texas coastline, including Coastal Bend and the Golden Triangle. This includes providing funding to replace damaged or destroyed classroom and teacher materials.
"These programs are essential to children’s wellbeing and the recovery of working families and communities, but they receive almost no recovery support from the federal or state government," said Mark Shriver, Save the Children’s Senior Vice President of U.S. Programs and Advocacy. "Save the Children is doing whatever it takes to help children get back to learning and on track, developmentally and socially. For instance, one child care center in southwest Houston was completely underwater after Hurricane Harvey and could not afford to replace its special needs gym and library that serves over 200 children – including kids with physical and mental disabilities. Save the Children stepped in to provide the support and materials they needed to reopen and enhance their students’ learning."
In collaboration with local mental health providers, Save the Children is partnering with schools, child care centers, clinics, community centers and local partners to help tens of thousands of children, parents and teachers build coping skills and resiliency in the aftermath of the storm through its signature social and emotional health program, Journey of Hope.
The evidence-based program, which was developed by Save the Children after Hurricane Katrina, has been used in school and community settings following many U.S. natural disasters and emergencies. It provides children a safe, small group setting to explore and normalize their emotions, develop healthy coping skills, build confidence and foster positive peer relationships.
"Save the Children knows how critical it is to offer support to children that enables them to process their feelings after traumatic events," added Bracken. "Journey of Hope helps kids learn to identify and manage their emotions, developing healthy coping skills for stress and trauma in an encouraging, safe and supportive environment."
Save the Children’s Emergency Response Team deployed to Texas in advance of Hurricane Harvey and has been on the ground, based in Houston, since the earliest days of the disaster. Immediate response efforts included implementing Save the Children’s disaster-tested Child-Friendly Spaces program, which provided safe and protective play areas for children at seven evacuation shelters throughout the state, and coordinating with local partners to distribute tens of thousands of essential child-centric materials to families most affected by the storm.
Save the Children has a strong history of protecting vulnerable children in the aftermath of emergencies in Texas, including Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008. In 2014, the nonprofit responded to the massive influx of children and families in the state who were escaping violence in Central America and supported their release from federal border patrol and immigration facilities.
To learn more about Save the Children’s Hurricane Harvey response and recovery work, visit www.SavetheChildren.org/Hurricane-Harvey.
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.