FEMA Announces Creation of Children's Working Group
FEMA August 6, 2009
While testifying before the Senate Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery today, the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate announced the creation of a "Children's Working Group."
The working group will allow FEMA and its partners to explore and implement planning and response strategies specific to children throughout the agency and ensure that during a disaster the unique needs of children are not only considered, but fully integrated into how FEMA administers this support to states and the public.
"It is time for special needs populations, whether children or any other segment of our communities who have traditionally been underserved, to be more fully and consistently integrated into preparedness and planning efforts at every level of government," Administer Fugate said. "Children are a part of every community. We must understand and address their needs from the outset, recognizing that they are not simply small adults. That means not putting the considerations specific to children in a separate box, but incorporating them into our planning on the front end."
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The Children's Working Group will be composed of FEMA employees across multiple directorates and offices to ensure coordination and action, and will report directly to the Office of the Administrator. The working group will be chaired by Tracy Wareing, counselor to Secretary Napolitano for FEMA.
Areas of focus of the Children's Working Group will include:
• Child-specific guidance as to evacuation, sheltering, and relocation;
• Tracking and reunification of families;
• Coordinated case management supports;
• Enhanced preparedness for child care centers and schools as well as for children in child welfare and juvenile justice systems;
• Enhanced national planning, including incorporation of children into national planning scenarios and exercises;
• Incorporation of children's needs into grant guidance;
• Improved recovery coordination across the federal family and with state and local partners in support of children's education, health and housing;
• Consideration as to how the federal family can help ensure child care centers are able rebuild and restore services more quickly following a disaster, and;
• Increased public awareness efforts to educate families and protect children during disasters.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
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