IOWA AMONG LEAST PREPARED TO PROTECT CHILDREN IN EMERGENCIES Print
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Written by Ajla Grozdanic   
Friday, 07 September 2012 12:06

State lacks four essential safety standards for kids, Save the Children reports

Washington, D.C., August 30, 2012—Iowa is no stranger to emergencies, frequently facing severe storms, tornados and flooding. But a new report from Save the Children finds that Iowa has not established four basic preparedness standards that all states should be required to meet.

“Most parents assume that when they drop their kids off for the day, their children will be safe if disaster strikes,” said Mark Shriver, Senior Vice President, Save the Children’s U.S. Programs. “But our new survey shows that only 17 states require the basic emergency preparedness regulations for both child care facilities and schools.”

The fifth annual National Report Card on Protecting Children During Disasters assesses all 50 states and the District of Columbia on four basic disaster preparedness and safety standards for child care facilities and schools. To meet these critical benchmarks, states must require all regulated childcare settings to have written plans for evacuation and relocation, and 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 multi-hazard plan accounting for a variety of different disasters and emergencies.

Iowa has failed to meet any of the four standards, putting it behind 46 states and the District of Columbia in emergency preparedness for children.  Although, overall, there are critical gaps in mid-western states disaster plans, Iowa’s neighbors have made considerable progress for kids. Missouri meets three of the four standards, Colorado meets two. Wisconsin is one of 17 states that meet all for standards for schools and child care facilities.

One of the standards Iowa still lacks requires all regulated child care facilities to have a specific plan to help children with disabilities and those with access and functional needs in emergencies. Save the Children found that, currently, an alarming 27 states fail to meet crucial standard, making it the focus of this year’s Report Card.

“The failure by states to establish basic emergency preparedness regulations for the nation’s youngest and most vulnerable children in school and child care puts many of these children at great risk should a disaster strike,” said Mark Shriver.

“These are infants and toddlers just learning to walk, as well as children with physical, emotional, behavior and mental health challenges – kids in wheelchairs, kids with autism, children with supplemental oxygen or feeding tubes. All of these children obviously are at great risk in an emergency,” added Shriver. “While states have made some progress in protecting the most vulnerable, it is unacceptable that 27 states do not require child care facilities to have a specific disaster plan to help ensure the safety and well-being of at-risk children.”

During the past five years, the report noted that the number of states that meet all four standards has increased from four in 2008 to 17 in 2012. The report also found that:

  • Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia still fail to meet all four standards.
  • Twenty-seven states do not require all regulated child care facilities to have a written plan that accounts for kids with disabilities and those with access or functional needs.
  • Twenty states do not require all regulated child care facilities to have an evacuation and relocation plan.
  • Eighteen states still do not require all regulated child care facilities to have a family reunification plan.
  • Nine states still do not require K-12 schools to have a multi-hazard disaster plan that accounts for multiple types of disasters.
  • Five states—Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan and Montana—fail to meet any of the preparedness standards for regulated child care facilities or schools, putting many children at risk.

“As a nation we have a moral obligation to protect the most vulnerable during disasters,” said Shriver.

To see how each state stacks up on protecting kids, and to read the full report, visit www.savethechildren.org/disaster-report.

About Save the Children

Save the Children works to break the cycle of poverty and improve the lives of children by ensuring they have the resources they need—access to quality education, healthy foods, and opportunities to grow and develop in a nurturing environment. When disasters strike, like hurricanes and wildfires, Save the Children is among the first on the ground, ensuring the needs of children are being met.

In the United States, Save the Children’s early childhood education, literacy, physical activity and nutrition, and emergency response programs reached more than 185,000 children last year alone. For more information, visit www.savethechildren.org/usa.
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