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Study mulls children in disasters

National commission focuses on resources and programs currently available for children following disasters.

BY STEPHANIE BACKUS | BALTIMORE | April 10, 2009


"Incorporating all of these perspectives and responsibilities into comprehensive disaster planning for children is a great challenge, but it is truly our mission"

—Christopher Revere, National Commission on Children and Disasters


Several organizations focus on children in times of disasters, including Brethren Disaster Ministries' Children's Disaster Services. Now, a coalition of national organizations are helping a commission study services for children post-disaster times like Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Before leaving office, President George Bush authorized the National Commission on Children and Disasters to look at shortcomings in planning, preparedness and response.

"It became apparent that it would be enormous for (the national coalition) to try to determine where they all were and how best to make recommendations to policy makers on how to fix problems," said Christopher Revere, executive director of the commission.

Revere said the commission is made up of three subcommittees to study children's health needs, mental health needs, and the delivery of Health and Human Services in the recovery phases, as well as looking at the design and operation of mass shelters.

One of Brethren's Children's Disaster Services operations is a shelter operation, working with kids, allowing parents to deal with family needs after a disaster.

The commission recently met to share findings from the subcommittees. Chairperson Mark Shriver said the commission will work closely with agencies delivering services to children after disasters.

“There is a wealth of knowledge already developed around how best to serve children affected by disasters, but it tends to exist in silos,” said Shriver. “Incorporating all of these perspectives and responsibilities into comprehensive disaster planning for children is a great challenge, but it is truly our mission,” Shriver concluded.

The commission plans to meet with agencies and experts in the next several months. They also plan to travel to communities prone to disaster.

"We want to meet with folks at a local level to determine what isn't working and what's working well to see if local models can be translated into a national model," Revere said.

A preliminary report is due in October with a final report due one year later. The commission will continue meeting every four months to hear reports from the committees.


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