Report: MS doing more to protect kids during disasters - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Report: MS doing more to protect kids during disasters

WASHINGTON, DC (WLOX) – A new report says Mississippi has improved its efforts to protect children affected by disasters. In fact, the 2010 disaster preparedness report released by Save the Children's U.S. Programs shows that Mississippi is one of only 12 states that meet the report's four basic standards. Those are:

  1. A plan for evacuating kids in child care: The state requires all licensed child care facilities to have a written plan for evacuating and moving kids to a safe location for multiple disasters.
  2. Reunifying Families After a Disaster: The state requires all licensed child care facilities to have a written plan to notify parents of an emergency and reunite them with their kids.
  3. Children with Special Needs: The state requires all licensed child care facilities to have a written plan that accounts for kids with special needs.
  4. An Evacuation Plan for Schools: The state requires all schools to have a disaster plan that accounts for multiple hazards.

Fewer than one quarter of all states and the District of Columbia have enacted these four basic safeguards to protect kids who are in school or child care during disasters.

Hurricane Katrina revealed the harm children and families experience when kids are not accounted for in disaster planning. Among the statistics cited in the report:

  • 5,192 children were reported missing after Hurricanes Katrina and Hurricane Rita and the last child was not found until long as six months later.
  • About 50,000 Louisiana and Mississippi children missed school in the 2005-2006 school year and approximately 15,000 did not attend in the 2006-2007 school year in Katrina.
  • More than a third of Louisiana children experience clinically-diagnosed depression, anxiety, or another behavior disorder after the storm.

"Five years after Hurricane Katrina, it is unacceptable for dozens of states to ignore these low-cost and common-sense safeguards for kids," said Mark Shriver, Save the Children U.S. Programs Senior Vice President.

"There are 67 million kids in school or child care on any given day, separated from their families and dependent on others for protection. The most vulnerable Americans in the most vulnerable settings are made even more vulnerable because of government inaction."

Click here to read the full 2010 disaster preparedness report from Save the Children.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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