- June 2008
- Vol. 9, No. 5
Including Children in Emergency Plans
Children are particularly vulnerable in times of disaster when the people and institutions that normally provide them with care and supervision are separated from them or destroyed. Depending on the type and scope of the disaster, children may lose family members, peers, and their connections to important institutions such as schools and daycare centers. In the aftermath of the disaster, children may be more susceptible than adults to psychological and developmental damage and trauma.
Planning for the special needs of children in times of disaster is the goal of a new guide created by Save the Children. The Unique Needs of Children in Emergencies: A Guide for the Inclusion of Children in Emergency Operations Plans is designed to help emergency coordinators develop a plan that addresses children's specific needs. Central to the plan's development is the involvement of individuals from key agencies, including social services agencies, hospitals, parent groups, faith-based groups, courts, and public health and safety offices. These individuals bring their specialized knowledge to the planning team, which then can gather basic information such as hazard risk assessment, maps of the community, and an inventory of emergency resources.
The guide offers an example of how a planning team may draft an emergency plan for children, describing the responsibilities of specific individuals and organizations. The sample plan covers such topics as educating the public (including children) about what to do in times of an emergency or disaster, developing protocols for sharing information on children and tracking them, and integrating all facilities that care for children (including schools) into local disaster plans.
The guide also includes eight appendices that cover such specialized topics as:
- Protocol to rapidly identify and protect displaced children
- Child identification survey
- Psychological effects of disasters on children
- Legal considerations for working with children in disasters
The guide can be downloaded from the Save the Children website:
The Child Welfare Information Gateway Library maintains links to emergency plans for some States and other jurisdictions. The list includes some more specific items, such as a State's protocol for foster parents in case of emergency. Access the current list of links on the Information Gateway site: