Children’s Services

Children handle disaster and being away from home differently than adults. The following is excerpted from a research project conducted by Homeland Security Institute following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita entitled, Heralding Unheard Voices: The Role of Faith-Based and Non-Governmental Organizations During Disaster (PDF).

Like adults, children need basic services such as shelter, food, and medical care. However, when providing for children after disasters, some additional needs and considerations are worth noting:

Emotional Trauma: The chaos of an evacuation; loss of friends, family, and pets; destruction of homes and property; removal from familiar surroundings; separation from community structure; and disruption to routine are examples of factors that may be particularly traumatic to children.

Physical Environment: Debris, fast-moving storm water, unsanitary conditions, crowded shelters, and unfamiliarity with their surroundings are special challenges children face. In the aftermath of a disaster, the world is a more dangerous place for children.

Shelter Environment: Unsupervised children in the unfamiliar environment of a temporary shelter are a challenge. Shelter operators stress the importance of providing programs to occupy children. Shelter-orchestrated children’s programs contribute to the smooth functioning of a shelter and facilitate the long-term recovery of evacuees.

Parental Absences: Evacuees who are parents of children face a recovery challenge - who takes care of their children while they look for housing and employment, meet with case managers to apply for aid, return to their homes to salvage what little is left, and do the myriad of other tasks required to return their lives to something more normal? By providing volunteers and staff to care for children, faith-based organizations and non-governmental organizations give adult evacuees the time they need to address their future long-term recovery.

As a ministry, consider opening your church to provide a calm, restful, recreational, and educational environment for children while parents attend to issues related to their long-term recovery.

For More Information:

Read the Findings, Limitations and Challenges, and Best Practices of Children’s Services presented on pages 83-84 in the report entitled, Heralding Unheard Voices: The Role of Faith-Based and Non-Governmental Organizations During Disaster (PDF).

Other community involvement opportunities include the following:

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