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Disaster Preparation and Response

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NCHE Resources | Federal Resources | Resources for Helping Students Cope
Other Resources | Sample Forms, Materials and Policies

NCHE Resources

Connecting Schools and Displaced Students brief series
This brief series explains how the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act applies to students displaced by disaster and how the Act can assist these students and their families. Each brief in the series targets information either to youth experiencing homelessness on their own, relief agencies, or school district administrators. The series includes the following handbooks:
  • Meeting the Educational Needs of Students Displaced by Disasters: Youth on Their Own
  • What Relief Agencies Should Know About the Educational Rights of Children Displaced by Disasters
  • What School District Administrators Should Know About the Educational Rights of Children Displaced by Disasters
    Download the briefs.

  • Connecting Schools and Displaced Students handbook series
    This handbook series explains how the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act applies to students displaced by disaster and how the Act can assist these students and their families. Each handbook in the series targets information either to parents of displaced children, relief agencies, or educators.The series includes the following handbooks:
  • After the Storm: Information for Parents on How Schools Can Help After Disasters (A Handbook for Parents)
  • Disaster Relief Agencies and Schools: Working Together to Ensure School Enrollment and Success (A Handbook for Local Liaisons and State Coordinators)
  • From the School Office to the Classroom: Strategies for Enrolling and Supporting Students Experiencing Homelessness
  • School as a Safety Net: Connecting Displaced Children With Educational and Support Services (A Handbook for Relief Agency Staff and Volunteers)
    Download the handbooks.

  • A McKinney-Vento Toolbox: Constructing a Robust and Rigorous Homeless Education Program, In Case of Disaster and Every Day
    This toolbox is designed to help school districts implement the McKinney-Vento Act fully, so they can address the needs of children and youth experiencing homelessness on a daily basis and in times of disaster. The toolbox contains information and practical lessons learned and resources developed during the recovery process following the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes.
    Download the toolbox.

    In Their Own Words: Schools and Students Overcoming Adversity
    This NCHE publication provides readers with a window into the daily challenges and triumphs of the schools and students affected by August 2005's Hurricane Katrina. In Their Own Words, in large part, is a first-person account of the hurricane's effects on education on the Gulf Coast during the few weeks and months after landfall and since. It is the voices of the students and the school, district, and relief agency staff who were closest to the challenges that resulted from the hurricane.
    Download the publication.


    Federal Resources

    DisasterAssistance.gov: The Nation's First Stop for Disaster Relief
    This U.S. government website enables citizens to locate and apply for disaster relief.
    Visit the website.

    Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA)
    FEMA's website provides disaster victims with information on how to access a variety of support services, including government benefits, hotlines for finding loved ones, and more.
    Visit the website.
    Additional FEMA resources:
    National Disaster Housing Strategy Resource Center
    National Disaster Recovery Framework

    FERPA Policy Guidance: Disclosure of Student Information Related to Emergencies and Disasters
    This guidance from the U.S. Department of Education, issued in June 2010, answers questions about the sharing of personally identifiable information from students' education records to outside parties when responding to emergencies, including natural or man-made disasters.
    Download the guidance.

    Interim Immunization Recommendations for Individuals Displaced by Hurricanes
    This memorandum from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides specific recommendations regarding immunizations for people displaced by hurricanes.
    View the memorandum.

    Lessons Learned for Protecting and Educating Children after the Gulf Coast Hurricanes
    This May 2006 report from the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) discusses the challenges encountered and lessons learned in locating missing children, locating and serving Louisiana's displaced foster children, and reopening K-12 schools and educating displaced school-aged children after the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes.
    Download the report.

    Office of Safe and Healthy Students: Emergency Planning
    This webpage from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Safe and Healthy Students is designed to be a one-stop shop that provides school leaders with information they need to plan for any emergency, including natural disasters, violent incidents and terrorist acts.
    Visit the webpage.

    Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance Center
    The Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance (TA) Center supports grantees funded under the Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) discretionary grant program by providing emergency management resources, training, and publications. The Center also helps non-grantee local educational agencies (LEAs) and private schools with improving and strengthening their emergency management plans through the provision of resources, responses to technical assistance requests, and facilitation of emergency management for schools training events.
    Visit the website.

    Tips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event
    This brief from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers tips to parents and teachers on recognizing the effects of a disaster on their children or students and helping them work through their feelings. Tips are separated by age group.
    Download the brief.

    U.S. Department of Agriculture Memo: Eligibility of Haitian Refugees for the Child Nutrition Programs
    This two-page memorandum details the USDA's policy on the eligibility of Haitian refugees for USDA child nutrition programs
    Download the memorandum.

    U.S. Department of Education: Tips for Helping Students Recovering from Traumatic Events
    This webpage from the U.S. Department of Education provides practical information for parents and students who are coping with the aftermath of a natural disaster, as well as teachers, coaches, school administrators and others who are helping those affected.
    Visit the webpage.


    Resources for Helping Students Cope

    A Practical Guide for Crisis Response in our Schools
    After the Storm: A Guide to Help Children Cope With the Psychological Effects of a Hurricane
    This guide, published by 7-Dippity.com in the wake of the 2004 hurricane season that devastated Florida, provides information, activities, and coping strategies to help parents and children cope with their reactions and feelings resulting from a hurricane and its aftermath.
    Download the guide.

    Coping with Disasters
    This webpage from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) offers suggestions for how to help young children deal with witnessing or being directly affected by the destruction of a natural disaster.
    Visit the webpage.

    Hurricane Assessment and Referral Tool for Children and Adolescents
    This two-page tool from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network assists providers in determining a student's risk categories and mental health needs and in making appropriate mental health referrals. The tool can be adapted easily for use in a variety of disaster situations, including earthquakes, fires, and tornadoes, as well as in assessing the needs of children and youth who have experienced domestic violence, abuse, or other trauma.
    Download the tool.

    National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Natural Disasters
    The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) brings a singular and comprehensive focus to childhood trauma. Combining knowledge of child development, expertise in the full range of child traumatic experiences, and dedication to evidence-based practices, the NCTSN changes the course of children's lives by changing the course of their care. NCTSN's Natural Disasters webpage provides information specifically on addressing issues of trauma related to natural disasters.
    Visit the webpage.

    NECTAC: Disaster Planning and Response
    This webpage from the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (NECTAC) provides information on assisting families and children, especially young children with disabilities, that have been affected by disaster.
    Visit the webpage.

    New Schools for Students with Disabilities: Tips for Families Who Have Been Relocated
    This brief from the National Association of School Psychologists provides some basic tips for parents of children with disabilities who have relocated following a hurricane or other sudden crisis event.
    Download the brief.


    Other Resources

    A National Report Card on Protecting Children During Disasters
    This July 2010 brief from Save the Children provides a state-by-state assessment on four measures of caring for children in the wake of a disaster: Does the state require licensed child care facilities to: 1) have a plan for evacuating kids in child care; 2) have a written plan to notify parents of an emergency and reunite them with their kids; and 3) have a written plan that accounts for kids with special needs; and 4) Does the state require all schools to have a disaster plan that accounts for multiple hazards?
    Download the brief.

    Coordinated Assistance Network (CAN)
    CAN is a multi-organizational partnership among some of the nation's leading nonprofit disaster relief organizations. Working in tandem with state and local relief agencies CAN is forging a new model of disaster recovery and preparedness for the United States. CAN participates in community-led preparedness and response coalitions focusing on best practices to serve those in need. As part of its work, CAN partnered with FEMA to develop a web-based database to share information between agencies and act as a repository of client data collected by all local and national partners.
    Visit the CAN website.

    Homeless Education Advocacy Manual: Disaster Edition
    This manual from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty informs advocates and families concerned about the educational needs of children and youth displaced from their homes due to a disaster. It includes information about topics such as which students are considered homeless under federal law; methods of advocating for individual students; methods of advocating for system-wide change; securing immediate school enrollments; ensuring stable school placements; and accessing necessary and beneficial services such as transportation and academic assistance.
    Download the manual.

    Hurricane Katrina and Relocated Students With Special Needs: Recommendations for Receiving Schools
    This brief from the National Association of School Psychologists provides practical strategies for providing services to students with special needs in the absence of an IEP following a disaster.
    View the brief.

    National Association of School Psychologists: School Safety and Crisis Resources
    This website provides a variety of resources dealing with crisis prevention, planning, and response. It addresses a variety of emergency situations, including school violence and natural disasters.
    Visit the website.

    National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD)
    NVOAD is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, membership-based organization that builds resiliency in communities nationwide. It serves as the forum where organizations share knowledge and resources throughout the disaster cycle preparation, response, recovery and mitigation to help disaster survivors and their communities.
    Visit the NVOAD website.


    Sample Forms, Materials, and Policies

    Colorado Department of Education: Disaster Resources
    Fairfax County Public Schools: Emergency Preparedness and Support
    This webpage from Fairfax County Public Schools details the district's emergency preparedness and response plans, which have been cited by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as national models.
    Visit the webpage.

    Florida Department of Education: Disaster Resources
    Madison Metropolitan School District: Guide on Enrollment and Service Provision for Students Displaced by Hurricane Katrina
    This guide from the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) explains how MMSD will respond to the needs of students displaced by Hurricane Katrina that wish to attend school within the district. The guide covers issues such as immediate enrollment, free and reduced lunch, post-trauma intervention services, and more.
    Download the guide.

    Oregon School Boards Association (OSBA): Student Safety Center
    This webpage from the Oregon School Boards Association (OSBA) provides various checklists and resources related to emergency preparedness and response.
    Visit the webpage.

    Preparing and Responding to Technological and Ecological Disasters
    Focusing on the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, this presentation describes the human response to disaster and what can be done to support the mental health of children as they cope with the trauma of disaster.
    Download the presentation.

    Taking Care of Yourself in the Aftermath of Trauma: Maintaining your Balance
    This presentation provides stress management techniques to use to maintain physical and mental health and balance in the aftermath of a traumatic event, such as a disaster.
    Download the presentation.

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    The National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) is the U.S. Department of Education's technical assistance center for the federal Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) Program. NCHE is housed at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

    This website was produced with funding from the U.S. Department of Education, on contract no. ED-01-CO-0092/0001. The content of this website does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Education or the University of North Carolina at Greensboro; nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

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