Children in Disasters Project
January 8, 2018
Massachusetts’s Western Homeland Security Planning Region used State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) funding to support a Children in Disasters Conference in September 2015. Local planners incorporated subject-matter expertise and participant input from the conference into subsequent efforts, such as developing a Family Reunification Plan Template.
The Western Homeland Security Planning
Region—composed of local emergency
management stakeholders from Berkshire,
Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden
counties—invested $96,014 in Fiscal Year
(FY) 2014 and FY 2015 SHSP funding to address the needs of children in disasters. In phase one, the region sponsored the Children in Disasters Conference. This event brought together over 200 emergency response professionals. Stakeholders from a range of disciplines attended the conference, including personnel with backgrounds in emergency management, law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services, public health, child care providers, community organizations, and faith-based organizations.
The conference agenda included keynote speakers presenting best practices on topics such as family reunification, cultural competency, children with complex medical needs, and strengthening resilience, as well as opportunities for participants to offer feedback on relevant policies and procedures. The conference concluded with a panel discussion to identify gaps, planning priorities, and next steps.
Following the conference, planners compiled the findings, recommended actions from the event, and presented them to the entire Western Homeland Security Planning Region Council. The Council reported that the conference helped solidify relationships across disciplines, foster new partnerships, and inform subsequent planning phases of the Children in Disasters project.
In the second phase of the project, the Council used the inputs and suggestions from the conference to inform a Family Reunification Plan Template that any organization (schools, childcare providers, community organizations, or municipalities) can adopt to create their own Family Reunification Plan. The Council introduced the template—which emphasizes the importance of establishing standard response protocols and standard reunification methods—at a multi-day Family Reunification Training held October 25-27, 2017.
In 2015, the Western Homeland Security Planning Region hosted a Children in Disasters Conference as part of their ongoing planning efforts. (Source: http://wrhsac.org/projects-and-initiatives/children- in-disasters/)
FEMA National Preparedness Assessment Division. Stakeholder Interview with the Massachusetts Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council. December 1, 2016.
Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety. Email Correspondence. July 2017. Massachusetts Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council: Children in Disasters;
Massachusetts Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council. Executive Summary, Children in Disasters Conference 2015: Keeping Kids Safe. 2017. http://wrhsac.org/wp- content/uploads/2015/12/CIDS_ExecSum_FINAL_11-19-15.pdf.