• November 2005
  • Vol. 6, No. 9

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Update on Hurricane Aid and Resources From HHS

Federal, State, and local governments continue to respond to the needs of children and families affected by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina. Families at risk before the hurricanes are particularly vulnerable, and many more families and children have been placed at risk because of loss of homes, jobs, or loved ones.

At the Federal level, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) continues to provide information, funding, and services to those in need. One month after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt announced that it was estimated that 41 percent of the 857,000 evacuees were receiving HHS help. Flexibility in enrollment allowed citizens who had lost documents such as tax returns to enroll for HHS services.

"Based on preliminary reports, we estimate that more than 40 percent of hurricane evacuees who have been displaced from their homes are getting help from HHS," Secretary Leavitt said in late September. "Working with our partners at the State and local level, we have streamlined the process for all evacuees who may need access to the range of benefits we can provide to get back on their feet."

HHS also introduced its "Help Is on the Line" campaign designed to get information out to displaced citizens who need medical, mental health, childcare, Head Start, or other services by connecting them with a national phone number or a phone number in their own State to link them to resources. Information about this campaign is available at www.hhs.gov/katrina/poster.html.

In order to help States restore essential child welfare services, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within HHS is awarding $2.8 million to its National Resource Centers (NRCs). The Federal money will be for training and technical assistance to help States rebuild child welfare service delivery and family court systems disrupted by Hurricane Katrina. The NRCs will assist States to develop and implement strategies to deal with a variety of urgent issues such as coordinating services for foster children evacuated from other States; locating foster children, foster families, and birth families; reestablishing and sharing records; reestablishing information systems; and reinstating court functions.

More specific information on the services and resources provided by the Administration for Children and Families is available at www.acf.hhs.gov/katrina/index.htm. (Editor's note: Link no longer active)

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