A Service of the
Children's Bureau/
ACF/DHHS
Disaster Preparedness and Relief

Agency Preparedness

Information on Trauma and Stress

Help for Children and Families

Help for Agencies and Staff

Fostering and Adopting Displaced Children

Finding Loved Ones

Housing and Jobs for Those Displaced

State Websites Providing Information

Federal Websites

2006 AdoptUsKids Summit

Other Resources


Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, we joined our six partner National Resource Centers in a coordinated approach to technical assistance. This PowerPoint presentation describes highlights of that effort as well as the continuing need.


Agency Preparedness

  • Coping With Disasters and Strengthening Systems: A Framework for Child Welfare Agencies
    This publication from the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement has a dual purpose -- to help managers think through what they might put in place to cope with disasters, and to highlight how taking these steps can improve systems for serving children and families. The three sections in this framework cover steps agencies should take before, during, and after a disaster. To help make this a useful tool, each section concludes with a checklist giving a quick overview of the key points discussed in the text. (February 2007)

  • Disaster Preparedness and Response
    The process of developing and implementing emergency response plans for States, governments, and agencies is complex. It is hoped that these resources from the Child Welfare Information Gateway may help States and jurisdictions in developing comprehensive disaster preparedness plans and responding to emergencies quickly and effectively to protect children and families. The resources are organized by preparedness (before a disaster), response (the immediate aftermath) and recovery (the longer-term reconstruction/healing phase).

  • Coping with Disaster: A Guide for Child Welfare Agencies
    Child welfare agencies should have a disaster plan that specifies emergency procedures and ensures that the agency continues to function during a man-made or natural disaster. This guide describes why a disaster plan is necessary and identifies the elements of an effective child welfare agency plan. Topics include how to use agency staff and community resources, ways to locate foster families, alternative funding sources, interagency collaboration, and procedures for receiving disaster relief funds. Treating child welfare staff as disaster victims, training foster parents, and plan implementation and maintenance are also discussed. (January 1995)

  • Privacy Decision-Making Tool for Emergency Preparedness
    Child welfare agencies are actively exploring multiple ways to engage with families to keep their children safe. Solution focused practice is a full family-centered model that has been used successfully in the mental health field and more recently in child welfare. The National Child Welfare Resource Center on Organizational Improvement has conducted three teleconferences on solution-focused practice. During these three calls, presenters discussed the philosophy, principles and research that underpin solution focused practice as well as how implementing this approach in child welfare has generated positive outcomes for children, families and workers. The audio files, as well as handouts from the calls, are available on their website.

  • Coping with Disasters:Tips for Child Welfare Agencies
    The Spring 2006 issue of Child Welfare Matters, the newsletter of the National Child Welfare Resource Center on Organizational Improvement, is devoted to ways agencies can prepare for and respond to crises.

  • Lessons Learned
    In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, many child welfare agencies have begun to review their own disaster preparedness plans. Carmen Weisner, former Assistant Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Social Services Office of Community Services and current Executive Director of the Louisiana Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, as well as a long-time social worker in Louisiana, is able to speak firsthand about agency preparedness. As the invited keynote speaker at an October 2005 meeting of the Council on Accreditation (COA), Ms. Weisner talked about issues that child welfare agencies should consider when developing their disaster plans

  • Preparing for the Next Emergency: Some Lessons for Charities from September 11
    This article from the Urban Institute discusses lessons learned from the September 11 charitable relief efforts. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, this brief offers perspective on issues surrounding the immediate challenges of emergency relief, meeting needs and donor intent, and administrative costs.

  • Managing in Emergencies: Enhancing Collaboration for Human Services
    This brief from the Finance Project summarizes strategies that policymakers, program developers, community leaders, human service providers, and others can use to enhance collaboration in emergency situations, so essential human services reach those in need.

  • Federal Action Needed to Ensure States Have Plans to Safeguard Children in the Child Welfare System Displaced by Disasters
    The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued this report on the readiness of state child welfare systems when disasters strike. It concluded only 20 states and the District of Columbia had written child welfare disaster plans, but those plans varied among the states. GAO recommended that Congress pass legislation requiring states to develop and submit disaster plans, and that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provide guidance to states in the planning of disaster relief as it relates to child welfare issues.

  • Ready for Anything: A Disaster Planning Manual for Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs
    By walking you through the process of preparing for disasters before they happen, this manual by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will help ensure that you have an effective response ready. Whether you operate an emergency shelter offering short-term residencies or a transitional living program serving youth who stay for more than a year, this manual will help you take steps to manage a disaster by focusing on three key areas – prevention and preparedness, response, and recovery.




Information on Trauma and Stress
  • Helping Children, Youth, Families and Professionals Deal with Post Traumatic Stress from Natural Disasters
    Our February 15, 2006 webcast provided participants with information and tools to use when working with children, youth and families recovering from traumatic events. Viewers will learn some guidelines for providing psychological first aid as well as both short term and interventions. Additionally, viewers will learn about secondary traumatic stress and proven intervention strategies. Finally, we examined how the state of Texas responded to the children, youth and families from Hurricane Katrina and Rita. View the archived webcast and download all the handouts.

  • Traumatic Stress/Child Welfare
    The Winter 2007 issue of Focal Point, from the Research and Training Center on Family Support and Children's Mental Health at Portland State University, focuses on child traumatic stress, particularly as experienced by children involved in the child welfare system. The causes and effects of traumatic stress are discussed, as are evidence-based treatments, and prevention strategies

  • Children, Families and Workers: Facing Trauma in Child Welfare
    This article appeared in Best Practice/Next Practice, the newsletter of the former National Child Welfare Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice, in Winter 2002. It discusses the traumatic effects of 9/11, and is equally important in the wake of natural disasters.

  • Information on Coping with Traumatic Events
    This National Institute for Mental Health site has a wealth of information. "Coping with Hurricane Katrina" reminds us that responders as well as survivors will be affected by this type of event.

  • Talking to Children About Disasters and Violence
    The Child Welfare League of America has posted a number of links to information that can help as you work with traumatized children - and your own as well - during difficult times.

  • The American Psychological Association
    APA offers several fact sheets to help individuals cope after both natural and man-made disasters.

  • The Aftermath of Katrina
    Articles and resources from The ChildTrauma Academy to assist caregivers and professionals working with Katrina victims.

  • Guidelines for Talking to Children
    The National Center for Children Exposed to Violence at the Yale Child Study Center has released guides they developed to help service providers and parents address the concerns of children following the effects of Hurricane Katrina (and other disasters).
    • The Providers Guide provides relief workers ways to help children address their concerns and worries arising from displacement, injury, and loss associated with natural disasters. In addition, these guidelines are intended to help relief workers, support caregivers to identify and address signs of adjustment difficulties in children, and suggest ways to talk to children about their fears and concerns.
    • The Parents Guide is not intended for children and families who have been directly impacted by Hurricane Katrina, but for the wider group of children and families throughout the country.

  • Parents Trauma Resource Center
    Information in English, Spanish and Arabic from the National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children.

  • Culturally Relevant Materials for Helping Professionals
    The National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children provides information for professionals helping children and families cope, including new articles on New Orleans, Louisiana, Cajuna and Creole cultures.

  • Bibliography: Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Practice
    This annotated bibliography from the Child Welfare Information Gateway was complied in December 2007 for the NRCPFC's child welfare manager's teleconference series. For new titles added to the Gateway database, go to: http://basis.caliber.com/cwig/ws/library/docs/gateway/SearchForm



Help for Children and Families
  • Caring for Kids after Trauma, Disaster and Death: A Guide for Parents and Professionals
    The first edition of this Guide from the New York University Child Study Center prepared immediately after September 11, 2001, provided educational and practical guidance to help schools, parents and others who care for children understand and respond to children's reactions to traumatic events. Since that time the world has endured a number of natural and man-made disasters, and the Guide has been revised to include updated, expanded and new material. The articles represent a synthesis of knowledge based on the experiences of pre-9/11 disasters, such as the Oklahoma City bombing and Hurricane Andrew in Florida, as well subsequent disasters, such as the Indian Ocean tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. The principal aim of this updated Guide is to translate research findings into practical applications for parents and mental health/school professionals for use during and after a crisis, as well as in prevention efforts. The Guide is also intended to help identify ways to strengthen the factors that promote resilience in a climate sensitive to the cultural and social context of families.

  • Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Violence and Disasters: What Parents Can Do
    This fact sheet from the National Institute of Mental Health provides steps parents can take to help children cope with violence and disasters.

  • Know the Rules: Safety Tips for Children Displaced in Natural Disasters and Their Caregivers
    Many children caught up in a natural disaster have not only been separated from their families but find themselves in a new state, school, and living environment. Often they must receive help and care from people they do not know. The trauma they experience may not be readily discernible. These tips are designed to help child victims of natural disasters acclimate to a new environment and caregivers provide the best assistance possible. From the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

  • Emergency Guidelines for Helping Katrina Victims
    Information and resources compiled by Connect for Kids, an organization devoted to giving adults parents, grandparents, guardians, educators, advocates, policymakers, elected officials and others the tools and information they need to work on behalf of children, youth and families.

  • Can Do and the Storm: A Story About New Beginnings
    This picture book, written by a child psychiatrist and a psychologist who is a member of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, helps parents and teachers talk to children about the hurricanes and the lives that were changed. It's a story about standing together against the storm and beginning again. Download the book for free.

  • Disaster Planning, Response and Recovery
    These resources from the Florida Institute for Family Involvement is designed to assist families in preparing for and reacting to disasters and emergencies.

  • Disaster Recovery: Children's Needs
    This section of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension at the NC State University has been developed over time in response to multiple North Carolina hurricanes, the Midwest floods of 1993, and stress-induced by the disaster associated with 9-11.

  • FEMA for Kids
    On this site, children can play games, enjoy stories, do puzzles, go through mazes, and watch videos. Underneath all the fun is a lot of good information that makes kids and their families better prepared in the event of a disaster.




Help for Agencies and Staff

  • Webcast: Moving From Disaster to Renewal and Recovery: The Louisiana Child Welfare Experience
    NRCPFC Executive Director Gerald P. Mallon talked with Marketa Gautreau, Assistant Secretary, Office of Community Services, Louisiana Department of Social Services on April 27, 2007 about the impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on Louisiana's child welfare system. Moving through natural disasters which affected the lives of thousands of children, youth, and families toward stabilization and recovery is a challenging process. There are many lessons to be learned from this unprecedented event.

  • Lessons Learned for Protecting and Educating Children after the Gulf Coast Hurricanes
    The General Accounting Office prepared this preliminary information to learn more about (1) the number of missing children and the challenges and lessons learned in locating them after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita; (2) the number of foster and other children receiving child welfare services in Louisiana, in particular, who were affected by the storm, and the challenges and lessons learned in locating and serving them; and (3) the number of schoolchildren displaced by the storm, the damage to their schools, and the challenges and lessons learned for educating children.

  • Case Planning Desk Reference for Emergency Situations
    With input from the National Child Welfare Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues and from Louisiana program managers, AdoptUsKids developed this reference that identifies specific questions that should be answered to guide decision-making in emergencies. Organized by permanency goal, the Desk Reference is formatted as a set of check lists to facilitate ease of use. While this tool was designed specifically for use in the aftermath of the hurricanes, it can be used by any worker seeking guidance in permanency decision-making regardless if the plan is reunification, adoption or anything in between.

  • Conference Calls for State Agencies
    The Children's Bureau sponsored a series of conference calls for child welfare directors, foster care managers, adoption managers, ICAMA managers and ICPC administrators. The primary purpose of the calls was to share information which will be of assistance to Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama in supporting their foster and adoptive families which may have been displaced by Hurricane Katrina. A second agenda item was to discuss the best avenues for identifying children who may have become disconnected from family and care takers. Notes from the calls are posted here for reference. All notes are in Microsoft Word format.

  • ACF Information Memorandum: Title IV-E and Hurricane Katrina
    This Information Memorandum reminds States of flexibility in the title IV-E program that may help them serve vulnerable children and families who have been affected by Hurricane Katrina. It discusses:
    • Children at risk of foster care placement
    • Recruiting foster care providers
    • Meeting children's needs in foster care maintenance payments
    • Providing the match for Federal funds
    • Case review requirements
    • Judicial determinations
    • Federal oversight

  • Managing in Emergencies: Making Use of New Funds and Funding Flexibility for Human Services
    This brief from the Finance Project, drawing on responses to Katrina and other disasters such as 9/11, explores strategies that policymakers and program leaders can use to increase the availability of funds and provide greater flexibility in the use of funds to meet human service-related needs in emergency situations. Some of these strategies have already been implemented, while others reflect proposals.

  • SAMHSA Resources for Agencies Working with Families Impacted by Hurricane Disasters
    Questions and Answers on helping families impacted by hurricane disasters from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Includes information for providers and counselors, parents and caregivers, and youth.

  • Psychosocial Implications of Disaster or Terrorism on Children: A Guide for the Pediatrician
    During and after disasters, pediatricians can assist parents and community leaders not only by accommodating the unique needs of children but also by being cognizant of the psychological responses of children to reduce the possibility of long-term psychological morbidity. The effects of disaster on children are mediated by many factors including personal experience, parental reaction, developmental competency, gender, and the stage of disaster response. Pediatricians can be effective advocates for the child and family and at the community level and can affect national policy in support of families. In this report, specific children's responses are delineated, risk factors for adverse reactions are discussed, and advice is given for pediatricians to ameliorate the effects of disaster on children. From the Journal Pediatrics.

  • Hurricane Katrina Disaster Resources
    Legal information for vicitms and lawyers affected by Hurricane Katrina from the American Bar Association.

  • Responding to a Crisis
    Links for provide a variety of resources and materials for use in crisis prevention and response from the UCLA School Mental Health Project.

  • The Cost of Caring: Secondary Traumatic Stress and the Impact of Working with High-Risk Children and Families
    The purpose of this free online course from the Child Trauma Academy is to present an overview of the topic of secondary trauma. The goal is to gain a better understanding of how to better serve the children we work with by making sure we are at our best. The course objectives are:
    • To introduce and discuss the concepts of burnout and secondary traumatic stress;
    • To review how unpredictable stress and trauma can negatively impact emotional, cognitive and physical functioning;
    • To describe individual, event-related and systemic factors which increase or decrease risk for developing trauma-related symptoms;
    • To help individuals understand the value of developing individualized "protective" strategies when they work in conditions likely to cause secondary traumatic stress; and
    • To direct individuals to additional resources that can further assist in meeting objectives.




Fostering and Adopting Displaced Children

We, like many other child welfare organizations, received many requests from individuals interested in providing foster care or adopting children affected by Hurricane Katrina. The NRCPFC responded to these questions with the following statement, and directing them to the child welfare agency in their state:

"Children without parents due to natural disasters have always brought out the best in the American people. The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC) has heard from many families willing to open their homes and hearts to children who are separated from or have lost their families due to Hurricane Katrina. Foster care and adoption of children is regulated by state public child welfare agencies, which are responsible for ensuring the safety, permanency, and well-being of children in foster and adoptive homes.

"It is expected that any unaccompanied children will be reunited with nuclear and extended family members as soon as possible. Only if family is not available will foster care or adoption be pursued. In times of crisis it is important to maintain connections, especially for children. However, there is an ongoing need to provide homes for the more than half million children who must spend time in foster care every year, and the 118,000 children who currently are free for adoption and are waiting for permanent families. To find out more about how you can help these American children, please visit one of these websites:

  • Child Welfare Information Gateway
    Choose "National Foster Care & Adoption Directory" in the left column, then search for toll-free adoption and foster care hotline numbers in your state.

  • AdoptUsKids
    If you are a family interested in learning more about the steps to adoption in your state, call toll free 888-200-4005 to be referred to an adoption resource specialist for your state.

"Those desiring to provide some immediate assistance to children and families should check with other resources listed on this page."




Finding Loves Ones


Housing and Jobs for Those Displaced
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
    This site provides information about emergency Katrina housing programs from HUD. Housing Hot line: 1-866-641-8102. Toll-free number for Section 8 voucher holders and public housing residents: 1-800-955-2232.

  • Home Sharing Program
    Register to provide lodging in your home for members of the military community who are victims of Hurricane Katrina.

  • Hurricane Recovery Assistance
    The Department of Labor has several programs available to provide income and job assistance in Florida and the Gulf Coast communities affected by last season's hurricanes.



State Websites Providing Information



Federal Websites


2006 AdoptUsKids Summit

AdoptUsKids hosted a meeting August 3-4 in San Antonio, Texas. "Answering the Call: Extraordinary Services in Extraordinary Times - Recovery & Reform" focused on the child welfare response to the hurricanes that struck the Gulf Coast in 2005. Presentation materials include:

  • Collaboration Counts: Answering the Call
    John D. Damon, Chief Operating Officer, Mississippi Children's Home Services
    On May 9-10, 2006, Mississippi Children's Home Services in partnership with the Mississippi Department of Human Services, Division of Family and Children's Services, hosted the Gulf Coast Child Welfare Summit: Lighting the Way in Biloxi, Mississippi. The purpose of the Summit was to bring together a cross section of public sector entities, advocacy groups, the court system, private child welfare service providers, foster parents, recreational providers, school systems, primary health care providers, and a group of national experts to assess the needs of the child welfare system following hurricane Katrina and develop an action plan to address these needs.

  • Rescue, Recovery and Rebuilding: Lessons Learned, Challenges and Opportunities
    Cindy Phillips, LCSW, Louisiana Department of Social Services
    Facts about Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, their impact on child welfare services, and important information about lessons learned and moving on. Includes photographs that vividly remind us of both the large scope of these disasters and the individual human struggles to survive.

  • Bridging Refugee Youth and Children's Services (BRYCS)
    Julianne Duncan, Ph.D., Associate Director, Children's Services and Lyn Morland, MSW, MA, Senior Program Officer, US Converence of Catholic Bishops Migration & Refugee Services
    Describes demographics, challenges and promising practices in the field of refugee children's services, as well as the technical assistance available from BRYCS.



Other Resources
  • Children's Bureau Training and Technical Assistance Network Disaster Preparedness and Response Resources
    From the Child Welfare Information Gateway, a Service of the Children's Bureau.

  • Cities at Risk: Catastrophe, Recovery and Renewal in New York and New Orleans
    Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy has published this edited volume of essays by leading thinkers nationwide exploring the lessons of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. It tackles the critical questions of how cities can prepare for, respond to and rebuild after large-scale disasters.

  • Intercountry adoption in emergencies: the tsunami orphans
    This policy brief from the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute examines the role of intercountry adoption in situations such as the one caused by the massive tsunami that struck Southeast Asia and the eastern coast of Africa on Dec. 26, 2004 -- that is, during natural disasters, armed conflicts, and other complex human emergencies. By outlining some of the unique threats posed to children during emergencies, and examining existing international conventions and the legal framework for intercountry adoption, this brief articulates best practices that incorporate both immediate and long-term needs of children left without parental care -- including protection, family reunification, community and family solutions, permanency, and respect for culture.

  • Overview of Disaster-Related Research
    An overview of disaster-related research developed by the Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research can be found on the National Association of Social Workers research website. The site provides an overview of issues related to disasters written to provide practitioners, researchers, and the public information as to evidence bases related to managing social work response to disasters. Included is a listing of research articles with abstracts.

  • What Happens to Victims? A Research Guide for Disaster-Response Studies
    Evaluators and others studying what happens to victims of major disasters must begin with a comprehensive understanding of victim services needs under such extraordinary circumstances. Based on that understanding, desired service outcomes and associated indicators will need to be constructed. To assist in the development of such research, this guide provides a series of starting, generic checklists of outcome indicators and related information considered pertinent to studying emergency services responses. The indicators cross a range of critical service areas and cover a wide array of conditions likely to be important to disaster victims, allowing for assessment of the extent to which victim services needs are met during and following disasters.

  • Studying the Consequences of Hurricane Katrina for ACF Service Populations: Annotated Bibliography
    The Urban Institute has undertaken a 12-month project to assess the feasibility of studying the consequences of Hurricane Katrina for Administration for Children and Families (ACF) service populations. The assessment is concerned with Katrina's consequences for child and family well-being and the need for ACF services. The analysis is organized around four substantive areas: migration and resettlement, income and employment, program needs (that is, needs for services), and program effects (that is, systemic effects on delivery systems). As part of its assessment of how to study the consequences of the hurricane, the Urban Institute project team has undertaken a broad literature review and produced a large bibliography on works that address the human, social, and economic dimensions of the storm, beginning with landfall in August and September 2005.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
Last Updated 07/08/09

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