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Children and Disasters

The Children and Disasters webpage reflects resources available to support the integration and implementation of children’s disaster related needs into preparedness, planning, response and recovery efforts initiated by state, local and tribal governments, as well as stakeholders responsible for the temporary care of children. 

Children and Disasters

With approximately 69 million children under the age of 18 in the United States, children comprise nearly one-quarter of the entire U.S. population.  In December 2007, Congress and the President established the National Commission on Children and Disasters, a bipartisan body responsible for conducting an independent, comprehensive study to identify gaps in the Nation’s disaster planning, preparedness, response, and recovery for children. In October 2010, the Commission submitted a report to the President and Congress providing recommendations for closing those gaps.

In response to, and in support of these efforts, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) began partnering closely with federal partners, nongovernmental organizations, pediatric experts and external stakeholders to ensure that the needs of children were considered and integrated into disaster related efforts initiated at the federal level.

Youth Preparedness Resources

Youth Preparedness

The influence of youth cannot be stressed enough when it comes to preparing their household and community for a disaster. FEMA’s youth preparedness page aims to empower practitioners with the knowledge and tools needed to transform youth into local leaders in emergency preparedness. You can find an abundance of information, programs, curricula, and activities that engage and empower youth and their families to become current and future generations of prepared citizens. Select resources are highlighted below. For more information and resources, please visit

Technical Assistance Center

FEMA technical assistance providers are available to assist individuals starting or operating youth preparedness programs. Technical assistance providers can answer your questions, refer you to existing tools and resources, and connect you with practitioners across the country to facilitate best practice sharing. You can reach a technical assistance provider by emailing

Children and Disasters Newsletter

The FEMA Children & Disasters Newsletter is a resource for youth preparedness practitioners, educators, parents, children, and teens. It shares timely research, examples of successful youth preparedness programs, safety tips, and resources related to youth preparedness. Subscribe for the latest updates or view archived issues.

Youth Preparedness Council

FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Council brings together youth leaders from across the country that are highly engaged in championing youth preparedness and making a difference in their communities. The Council supports FEMA’s commitment to involving youth in preparedness-related activities, and provides an avenue to engage youth, taking into account their perspectives, feedback, and opinions. For more information about the Youth Preparedness Council, visit

National Strategy for Youth Preparedness Education

In July 2014, FEMA, the American Red Cross, and the U.S. Department of Education announced the National Strategy for Youth Preparedness Education: Empowering, Educating and Building Resilience. This document outlines a vision for a nation of prepared youth and provides nine priority steps that partners at the local, state, and national levels can take to help make that vision a reality. Your organization can affirm your support for youth preparedness and the National Strategy. Learn more at or email

Student Tools for Emergency Planning (STEP)

STEP is a classroom-based emergency preparedness curriculum for fourth-and-fifth graders in an easy, ready-to-teach format. Students learn about disasters, emergencies, and hazards, and how to create a disaster supply kit and family emergency plan. Program materials are available at no cost. Download the curriculumview the videos, or request hard copies by emailing

Teen Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)

Teen CERT training uses hands-on and realistic response activities to prepare teens for the unexpected in their community. The program aims to empower teenagers with newly learned leadership skills, teaching them to safely respond to an emergency and assist disaster survivors without endangering themselves or others.

For more information and resources on youth preparedness visit our website:

Ready To Help

Family Preparedness Resources

Family Plans: Families may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to plan in advance; how will you contact one another, who will you designate an out of town contact, and how will you get back together?

Emergency Preparedness Curriculum for Families and Resources for Children with Disabilities and Special Health Care Needs and Their Families

Feeling Safe, Being Safe

This training resource describes steps that can be taken to be better prepared by creating an emergency worksheet, creating a personalized emergency kit, and practicing evacuations plans, amongst other actions.

Ready Kids

Build an emergency preparedness kit, learn about different types of disasters, and find out how to get involved.

Children and Youth Preparedness Social Media Toolkit

The Children and Youth Preparedness Toolkit has safety and preparedness messages you can share on your social media channels. You can either copy these messages directly or customize them to reach your audience.

Children and Youth Preparedness Social Media Toolkit

Emergency Planning Resources

Including Children in Emergency Management:

National Preparedness Goal

Focuses on a unified and collaborative approach of effectively addressing our nation’s disaster related resources by engaging the whole community in preparedness efforts.

National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF)

Defines core recovery principles, roles and responsibilities of recovery coordinators and other stakeholders, a coordinating structure that facilitates communication and collaboration among all stakeholders, and guidance for pre and post disaster recovery planning.

National Response Framework (NRF)

Incorporates a focus on whole community and core capabilities.  For example, the Framework now describes the important roles of individuals, families and households in response activities.

Comprehensive Preparedness Guidance (CPG) 101 Version 2

Children’s disaster related needs have been integrated into the CPG which provides guidance on the fundamentals of planning and the development of Emergency Operations Plans.

The Children in Emergencies Planning Guide

Created to help local and state emergency managers/coordinators in their efforts to include children in emergency planning.

Design and Construction Guidance for Community Safe Rooms

A guidance document for engineers, architects, building officials and prospective safe room owners. It presents important information about the design and construction of community and residential safe rooms that will provide protection during tornado and hurricane events.

Post Disaster Reunification of Children: A Nationwide Approach

Illustrates the significance of whole community collaboration and inclusive emergency planning by providing a comprehensive overview of the coordination processes necessary to reunify children separated from their parents or legal guardians and reflecting how whole community partners can work together to meet one shared mission.

Family Reunification Following Disasters: A Planning Tool for Health Care Facilities

Provides planning assistance for hospitals as they review and update their plans to provide information, support services, and safe reunification assistance to family members of patients who have experienced a disaster. This guidance is meant to complement and integrate with the hospital’s emergency operations plan and is not meant to replace, duplicate, or conflict with the structures, roles, or guidance offered by that plan. Hospitals are encouraged to review this document and adapt and incorporate those sections and tools they deem useful and appropriate to their needs.

Child Care:

Post-Disaster Child Care Needs and Resources

The Post-Disaster Child Care Needs and Resources document is designed to address the challenges that families and child care providers (including centers, in-home, and family child care providers) may experience following a disaster. Resources in this document can be utilized for preparedness and planning at the State level to identify the appropriate resources within a State to address the child care needs of families and available resources for providers.  The policy and guidance that are referenced throughout the document are specific to Presidentially declared disasters or public health emergencies.  

Disaster Planning and Recovery Basics for Child Care Facilities

Child Care Aware of America works with partners on nationwide efforts to train and ensure that child care providers have a plan. They also raise awareness and promote effective polices to ensure that children are safe before, during, and after a disaster and that child care is considered in each community as part of rebuilding efforts after a disaster has occurred.    

Please see Response & Recovery resources for information on damaged/destroyed Private-Non-Profit Child Care Facilities

Juvenile Justice:

Emergency Planning for Juvenile Justice Residential Facilities

First comprehensive planning guide to address the specific needs of children, youth, and families involved in the juvenile justice system during an emergency.


Child Safety Guidance for Emergency Evacuation Shelters and Local Assistance Centers

Provides low-cost and no-cost improvements to improve the safety and well-being of children and adults who are in emergency evacuation shelters, local assistance centers and other locations where children and families congregate before, during and after incidents.

Commonly Used Sheltering Items (CUSI)

This document contains a catalog of commonly used sheltering items and identifies basic commodities necessary to sustain infants and children in mass care shelters and emergency congregate care environments.

Mega-Shelter Planning Guide

Published by the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) and the American Red Cross and in partnership with many stakeholders, provides public assembly venues, their communities, emergency managers, shelter operators, and the many others who may be involved in a mega-shelter’s operation with a comprehensive guide to formulate and implement plans and procedures.  


Department of Education: Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance Center

Supports schools, school districts, and institutions of higher education (IHEs), with their community partners, in the development of high-quality emergency operations plan (EOPs) and comprehensive emergency planning efforts. The REMS TA Center provides a hub of information, resources, training and services in the field of school and higher education emergency operations planning.

Guide For Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans

An easy-to-use crisis guide with essential, to-the-point advice for schools and districts to keep schools safe and support children and their families. The Guide For Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans has resources on preparing for, reacting to, and responding to a crisis. The guide stresses the importance of engaging all members of the school community in planning and responding to these types of events.

The Texas School Safety Center

Provides a conglomerate of resources, best practices and trainings. Information includes, but is not limited to, bully prevention, dating violence prevention, internet safety, drug and alcohol awareness, school violence, development of multi-hazard emergency operations plans and the development of a positive school environment.

Response & Recovery Resources

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) 

Supports state, tribal and local efforts of reunifying children who have been separated from parents/legal guardians as a result of disaster through the National Emergency Child Locator Center (NECLC), Team Adam (technical assistance), and Unaccompanied Minors Registry (UMR).

Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide (Child Care & Educational Facilities)

The Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide combines all Public Assistance (PA) policies into a single document and provides an overview of the PA program implementation process to include provisions that support Private Non-Profit child care providers.   This document also reflects guidance related to the establishment of child care services provided in conjunction with congregate care shelters and standalone child care centers stood up by state, local or tribal governments.

Public Assistance Program and Educational Facilities Fact Sheet

FEMA and the U.S. Department of Education worked together to develop this Fact Sheet in an effort to better address Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) as they relate to reimbursement eligibility for schools damaged or destroyed as a result of a Presidentially declared disaster.

The Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013

Provides FEMA the specific authority to pay for “child care” expenses as disaster assistance under the Other Needs Assistance (ONA) provision of the Individuals and Households Programs in addition to funeral, medical, and dental expenses. A Policy reflecting this authority was released in January 2013.

Unaccompanied Minors Registry (UMR)

The UMR, administered by the NCMEC, is our nation’s first national repository created to support the ability to collect, store, report, and act on information related to children separated as a result of disaster.

Helping Children to cope with Disasters

Disasters are upsetting experiences for everyone involved. The emotional toll that disasters bring can sometimes be even more devastating than the financial strains of damages, the loss of a home, business or property.  Children may cope more effectively with a disaster when they feel they understand what is happening and what they can do to help protect themselves, their family, and friends.

Coping with Disasters  

This website offers guidance on how to recognize signs of disaster-related stress, easing stress, helping kids cope with a disaster and reassuring children after a disaster.

Talking to Children about Disasters

This resource provides basic information on how to help children understand what is happening, without providing unnecessary details that may only harm them.

How to help children cope with disasters.

Parents, teachers, grandparents and other caregivers can be concerned about how dramatic images of and discussion about tragic events will affect the emotional well-being of their children. This resource offers tips on how to communicate with children and help them cope.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Helping Children Cope with Disaster   

Young people react to trauma differently than adults. Some may react right away; others may show signs that they are having a difficult time much later. As such, adults do not always know when a child needs help coping. This tip sheet will help parents, caregivers, and teachers learn some common reactions among different age groups and how to respond in a helpful way.

The National Center for Child Traumatic Stress

Leads the Network in its efforts to increase access to services and raise the standard of care for children and their families across the United States who have experienced trauma.  

National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement

Save the Children’s Journey of Hope

Tips to support teens who have experienced an emergency incident, and for parents to support themselves and their children in recovering from an emergency incident.

Training Resources

Planning for the needs of Children in Disasters IS-366

The purpose of this course is to provide guidance for Emergency Managers and implementers of children’s programs about meeting the unique needs that arise among children as a result of a disaster or emergency.

Multi-hazard Planning for Childcare IS-36

The goal of this course is to provide childcare providers, of all sizes and with responsibility for children of all ages, with the knowledge and tools to analyze the hazards and threats at the site, to develop a plan to address these hazards and threats, and to implement processes to update and practice the emergency plan.  

Introduction to the Incident Command System, I-100 for Schools IS-100.SCA

This self-paced course, designed primarily for kindergarten through high school personnel, promotes school safety by instructing how ICS principles can be applied in school-based incidents and preparing school personnel to interface with community response personnel. 

Multi-hazard Emergency Planning for Schools IS-362.A

This self-paced course covers basic information about developing, implementing, and maintaining a school emergency operations plan (EOP). The goal of this course is to provide students with an understanding of the importance of schools having an EOP and basic information on how an EOP is developed, exercised, and maintained.   

Tracking and Reunification of Children in Disasters:  A Lesson and Reference for Health Professionals

A pediatric online lesson on responding to an unaccompanied child in a disaster. During this lesson, learners will absorb core materials and apply their knowledge in three case studies.

Pediatric Disaster Response and Emergency Preparedness Training Course

Funded by DHS/FEMA and TEEX, this 16-hour course is provided throughout the United States and its territories at no cost to participants. By incorporating case studies and small group exercises, students can discuss concepts and share ideas about pediatric disaster preparedness with each other. Students also review their community’s preparedness and identify weaknesses or gaps.

Other Resource Links

Great ShakeOut

Earthquake drills for various audiences; predominance in schools.

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Children & Disasters Website

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers a comprehensive Children and Disasters Website with policies and resources to improve the care of children in a disaster.

Last Updated: 
05/24/2019 - 13:22