Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Children's Disaster Services partners on child safety in shelters.

Disasters can strike anywhere, at any time. When a community is affected, friends and neighbors join efforts through a number of venues to help aid those in need. One of the most critical disaster relief activities includes providing safe shelter.

Today, three organizations affirmed their commitment to help one of the largest population groups affected by disaster--children. Children’s Disaster Services (formerly Disaster Child Care), a ministry of the Church of the Brethren General Board, joined with the American Red Cross and Save the Children in signing a memorandum of understanding that defines how the three will collaborate to establish “Safe Spaces” in emergency evacuation shelters during disaster events in the US.

The signing took place today, June 20, in Rayburn House Office Building as part of a briefing and Roundtable discussion on “Preparedness, Response and Recovery for Children” with Congressworman Corrine Brown.

In the most recent disaster figures from 2006, the Red Cross reported nearly 450,000 people were sheltered following disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, other storms, floods, fires, and explosions. It is estimated that at least one-third of those seeking a safe haven were children.

During a shelter situation, “Safe Spaces” will provide children with safe physical areas in which they can play, learn, socialize, and express themselves under the supervision of a caring adult. Safe Space Kits will contain materials that can be used to set up and establish a safe space within a shelter. These pre-packaged kits contain materials to mark off a special area for children; activity supplies such as art materials, books, games, and toys; and other materials to assist children and families in a shelter environment. The structured, supervised activities offered in “Safe Spaces” are designed to strengthen children's resilience and help them begin to work through their emotions following a disaster.

The trilateral agreement defines the broad cooperative actions of each organization. Depending on the scope and scale of the disaster and impact and available resources, the Red Cross will provide space in shelters for children's services, Save the Children will provide equipment and materials in the form of a Safe Space Kit, and Children's Disaster Services will provide volunteers to work with children in the shelter.

Source: 6/20/2007 Newsline

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