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.
- Each county needs its own disaster plan; create a hierarchical disaster plan from state down to county level.
- Consider and plan for temporary office locations. Availability of laptops allows business to continue right away.
- Use media (television and radio) to keep the public informed.
- Seek out lost and displaced children and shelter them.
- Supply a trailer (POD) for supplies needed after a disaster.
- Require all providers and resource families to have a disaster evacuation plan.
- Routinely utilize national pharmacy chains. Child information is already in their system in case child is displaced and needs medication.
- Make special arrangements for children in training schools or locked facilities to be in a separate and appropriate shelter location.
- Locate disaster recovery sites out of State and develop relationships prior to a disaster.
- Evacuate group homes to non-affected group homes in other areas.
- Create a brochure for foster parents for hurricanes and other disasters; licensing workers discuss individual plans quarterly; produce hard copies until your information system will retain it.
- Support a helpline for foster parents and foster children to use during disaster.
- Require a disaster plan in group home licensing regulations; include another designated toll-free number.
- Focus on expanding use of local resources and entities and creating plans at the local level.
- Prepare to receive evacuees with special shelter needs: registered sex offenders, mental health, medically fragile, etc.
- Work with regional staff to create regional plans; ensure that regional and state plans are coordinated.
- Define “essential staff” before the disaster; make sure they know that they are essential staff and their responsibilities in the event of a disaster.
- Conduct statewide exercises for natural disasters. One state had a drill for pandemic flu, assuming a 50% reduction in the workforce.
- Remember the details. Dry pavement needs tools to anchor temporary tents.
- Develop a plan to manage incoming supplies before they arrive.
- Secure a safe play area for children housed at the shelter.
- Prepare for confidentiality rules to be relaxed.
- Determine in advance which staff will man shelters, train, educate others.
- Plan in advance for displaced employees to check in – centralized number to a call center.
- Have Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) in place with FBI regarding protocol to identify disaster victims and share information.
- Identify shelter liaisons to check on status of shelters – trash, facilities, needed supplies, etc.
- Form agreements with oil companies to make sure there is enough gas when needed for field staff.
- Consider staff at fuel stations along evacuation routes, restrooms, food, and water.
- Consider plans above the agency that are already in place so that there can be coordination.
- Consider a variety of smaller plans that fold into the comprehensive agency plan.
- Explore southeast quadrant disaster planning – Underway in South Carolina for all 8 coastal states.