• Sept / Oct 2006
  • Vol. 7, No. 7

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Child Welfare 1 Year After Katrina

At the 1-year anniversary of the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Federal initiatives for child welfare continue to be developed. Some of the recent events include a Children's Bureau Hurricane Summit, waivers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for childcare, and a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Hurricane Summit—Entitled "Answering the Call: Extraordinary Services for Extraordinary Times: Recovery and Resilience," this was the fourth Collaboration to AdoptUSKids Foster Care Summit hosted by the Adoption Exchange Association and sponsored by the Children's Bureau. Workshops focused on disaster management for child welfare agencies, building on the lessons learned from agencies and workers who coped with the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. General sessions included:

  • Rescue, Recovery, and Rebuilding
  • Building and Maintaining Resilient Child Welfare Systems
  • Secondary Traumatic Stress—Assessing the Risk and Taking Steps to Protect Your Staff

Some of the most moving movements came from the personal stories shared by the workers in the hurricane-affected States. A standing ovation greeted the Louisiana workers who were in the crowd. Many had lost their own homes and belongings but stayed on to staff the shelters for others.

Childcare Waivers—HHS has approved waivers for Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas to access $60 million for childcare services in support of hurricane recovery efforts. The waivers lift Federal requirements for State matching funds in order for States to receive Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) money.

"Federal Action Needed to Ensure States Have Plans to Safeguard Children in the Child Welfare System Displaced by Disasters"—This GAO report provides information on the number of States that have disaster plans for child welfare services, basic components of these plans, the extent to which States that experienced 2005 disasters had plans at the time, and HHS efforts to support States in the development of child welfare plans for disaster response. Information on HHS efforts to encourage States to develop plans—not currently required by Federal law—and HHS guidance for such plans are included.
www.gao.gov/new.items/d06944.pdf (PDF - 885 KB)


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The following are other recently released resources for agency disaster planning:

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