NRC-CWDT managed a Coastal IT Workshop for IT Directors, SACWIS Directors and Program Emergency Coordinators from eight coastal States to discuss past, current, and future plans to prepare for disasters by their State child welfare agency.
Representatives attended from Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas child welfare agencies. Florida representatives included Kim Brock, Former IT Director of the Department of Children and Families and Carla Boyce, Chief of the Bureau of Preparedness, Florida Emergency Management. Also presenting were Larry Bonney, Team Adam Project Manager at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and Sarah Webster from the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement. These bullets should be used in conjunction with other Tips, Tools, and Trends published by NRC-CWDT to aid in local agency decisions as they develop disaster plans.
Data and Information Technology Considerations
- Agency liaisons may be assigned to visit each shelter to record the foster children in the shelter and report back to the state.
- Utilize laptop technology with air cards/VPN connections
- Portable technology – Plan to relocate outside of the damage area and be prepared with portable technology; beware of reliance on towers and basic infrastructure, such as electricity, phone lines, etc.
- During the course of regular case management activities, collect “in case of emergency” information on out of state relatives for biological and foster parents, as well as who should be informed and how if the child is displaced due to an emergency.
- Consider using barcoded wristbands or universal IDs for evacuees or state IDs for adults.
- Explore the cost effectiveness of purchasing agency RVs with satellite and generator capabilities.
- Develop an Emergency management council including all CIO’s from agencies involved with the child welfare information system and require all agencies to have a disaster plan.
- One state used a web link to Survey Monkey (an online survey service) to collect current information from displaced families rather than a 1-800 number.
- Internet and intranet forms can be used to collect staff information on location and status.
- Include your training plan on web site for staff, including checklists for various disaster situations and organizational charts with staff roles and functions.
- Keep an updated copy of agency web sites on an external hard drive kept in an employee’s home as backup.
- If available, use the 211 line as the point of contact for evacuation assistance. This also helps the state assess shelter and other resource needs.
- Consider your state’s best use of redundant communications – 800 MHz radio system, radio over IP, wireless broadband.