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 by Save the Children. The fifth annual National Report Card on Protecting Children During Disasters grades all 50 states and the District of Columbia on four basic disaster preparedness and safety standards for children in child care and schools. To meet these critical benchmarks, states must require all regulated childcare settings to have written plans for evacuation and relocation, for family reunification following an emergency, as well as a specific plan to assist children with disabilities and those children with access and functional needs. States must also require all K-12 schools to have a written plan accounting for a variety of different disasters and emergencies. This year’s report found that while 17 states now meet all four basic preparedness standards; 33 states and the District of Columbia still do not.
Save the Children’s report highlights the success of an employee of The Arc of Prince George’s County, Judy Tribby, who works at the YMCA inclusive child care center, in Bowie, MD. This center is a collaboration with The Arc of Prince George’s County. Judy has been instrumental in ensuring that emergency plans in place at the center take into account every need of the children with disabilities. Her work paid off in August 2011, during the East Coast earthquake.
To learn more about Judy’s work and to see how your state stacks up on protecting kids, and to read the full report, visit www.savethechildren.org/disaster-report.