Consuelo sits with her mom, Luz, in the library at her southwest Florida child care center. Consuelo participated in Save the Children's Journey of Hope resilience program in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, which helps children and caregivers cope with traumatic events, develop their natural resiliency and strengthen their social support networks. Journey of Hope has helped kids across the state of Florida cope with stress and anxiety following the catastrophic 2017 storm. Save the Children, June 2018.

Consuelo sits with her mom, Luz, in the library at her southwest Florida child care center. Consuelo participated in Save the Children's Journey of Hope resilience program in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, which helps children and caregivers cope with traumatic events, develop their natural resiliency and strengthen their social support networks. Journey of Hope has helped kids across the state of Florida cope with stress and anxiety following the catastrophic 2017 storm. Save the Children, June 2018.

One Year after Hurricane Irma, Save the Children Remains Dedicated to Restoring Early Learning Programs, Helping Children Heal Emotionally

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (September 10, 2018) A year after Hurricane Irma’s powerful winds and flood-inducing rains brought mass destruction across Florida, Save the Children remains on-the-ground in the Sunshine State, committed to restoring early learning programs and helping children heal emotionally from the distress of the catastrophic storm.

Save the Children’s Emergency Response Team deployed to Florida before Hurricane Irma made landfall to meet children and families’ immediate needs, and has been working since to ensure Florida kids most impacted by the storm have access to early learning services and become more resilient and ready for the next emergency.

“Hurricane Irma destroyed homes and child care centers, turning children’s lives upside down. Kids and families continue to rebuild their lives one year later, and Save the Children is dedicated to supporting them in their long-term recovery,” said Betsy Sherwood, who leads Save the Children’s recovery programming in Florida.  

As a national leader in early childhood education, Save the Children continues to collaborate with early education networks serving the most vulnerable children and families, to help restore and improve child care centers in south Florida where early learning was most impacted. Save the Children has supported the recovery of more than 70 child centers serving over 9,500 children, to date, in Florida.

“The well-being of Florida children – both today and in the future – depends on quality early learning programs. When these services are disrupted, children and families suffer,” said Mark Shriver, Save the Children’s Senior Vice President of U.S. Programs and Advocacy. “That’s why Save the Children is doing whatever it takes to help restore and improve early learning programs and get children back to learning – plus helping to prepare communities to better serve children in the next emergency.”

In addition, Save the Children is providing its flagship social and emotional recovery program, Journey of Hope, and training hundreds of teachers, educators, child care providers, caregivers and more, in the ways to best support children and families affected by this disaster. The evidence-based program, developed after Hurricane Katrina, has – to date – helped more than 300 Florida children and over 200 caregivers cope with trauma, reduce stress and become more resilient in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

“Children have lost their sense of security and need time and help to emotionally heal. Severe distress can cause children to have difficulties with learning, behavior problems, and fractured relationships – so it’s critical they have the opportunity to process their feelings after traumatic events like Hurricane Irma,” added Sherwood. “Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program provides children a safe, small group setting to develop healthy coping skills, build confidence and foster positive peer relationships.”

Save the Children, as a national leader in child-focused disaster preparedness, is also collaborating with local partners to support child-care centers with emergency planning, and equip families with essential emergency supplies. In addition, its interactive Prep Rally program is helping Florida children and communities better prepare for the next disaster. To date, this program has helped nearly 700 elementary school-age children across south Florida and the Florida Keys plan ahead for emergencies.                                                                    

Save the Children’s immediate response efforts included implementing its Child-Friendly Spaces program – which provided safe and protective play areas for children at evacuation shelters – and distributing child-focused supplies, including cribs, strollers diapers, books and hygiene kits to families in need.

To learn more about Save the Children’s Hurricane Irma response and ongoing recovery work, visit SavetheChildren.org. To see how Save the Children has supported Florida children and families, visit YouTube.

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 Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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