Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, 74 percent of parents with children in school or child care believe the federal government is not very prepared to protect their children from disaster. Yet the average parent spent only one hour on family emergency planning over the past year—and many spent no time at all, Save the Children reported today in its 2014 Disaster Report Card, What Are You Waiting For?
In contrast, the average parent spent five hours organizing back-to-school supplies this summer, according to a Harris Poll online survey commissioned by Save the Children for the report, released as National Preparedness Month began. The nationally representative poll surveyed 1,012 parents of children under 18 who are enrolled in child care or school.
Nearly half (49 percent) of such parents don't feel very prepared to protect their kids from disaster. A new infographic pulls out other key results.
"This report is a wake-up call," said Kathy Spangler, Save the Children's vice president of U.S. programs. "American parents say they're concerned about risks their children face from school shootings and natural disaster. Yet, our poll also shows most parents know little about emergency plans at their child's school or child care, and that they are failing to take basic actions to protect kids at home."
In the past year alone, the nation has experienced at least 20 school shootings and 50 major natural disasters, Save the Children's new report says. As the nation's leading child-focused emergency response agency, Save the Children has served more than 800,000 children affected by disaster in the United States since Hurricane Katrina struck.
"The results are disturbing, because we know children are always the most vulnerable when disaster strikes," she added. "Their safety, emotional well-being and development are at risk."
Disaster can strike anywhere—a point reinforced by the poll. More than half of American families with children in child care or school (54 percent) have already been affected by hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, school shootings, wildfires or other types of disaster, the poll shows.
Two thirds of U.S. parents with children in child care or school are at least somewhat concerned about the risk their children face from natural disaster (66 percent) and school shootings (70 percent). More than a third of such parents (35 percent) are very or extremely concerned about school shooting risks, and 35 percent believe those risks are rising.
Back to School Concerns
The poll findings come on top of Save the Children's annual research that shows 21 states and the District of Columbia still lack basic emergency plan requirements for schools and child care centers. (See pages10-11 of the full report for detailed results and methodology.)
As the summer season ends and 69 million children are again separated from their parents daily, the new poll exposes alarming gaps in parent-school communication:
Save the Children's new video, "Where Are You?" illustrates the importance of reunification planning.
Reunification became a national concern after Hurricane Katrina separated thousands of children from their families. It took seven months to reunite the last child with her parents.
Yet today, nearly one in five parents of children in school or child care (18 percent) hasn't even provided caregivers with their emergency contact information. Nearly half of parents (46 percent) haven't given schools or child care providers an out-of-town emergency contact, essential should disaster disrupt local communications.
Gaps at Home
While three in five parents of children in school or child care (60 percent) reported having some sort of family emergency plan, they often fall short on precautions recommended by Save the Children. For instance, of those parents with plans:
Among the two-fifths of parents with children in school or child care who have no plan at all:
Many of these parents haven't set aside key disaster supplies, such as the recommended five-day supply of food and water. Even among parents who have a plan, more than a third (35 percent) don't have a two days' supply. Most (55 percent) also haven't set aside a comfort item for children.
Save the Children offers disaster planning checklists through its Get Ready Get Safe initiative, and recommends creating a "go kit" for each family member. The kit should include essential toiletries, medical and contact information—and a favorite activity and comfort item for children.
"This year we've cared for children uprooted by fire, floods and tornadoes," Spangler said. "Even small things can go far in helping a child in turmoil reestablish a sense of normalcy. With the right support, we know children can bounce back. We urge all parents to take steps now that could safeguard their child's wellbeing later."
Save the Children is calling on all Americans to pledge to better protect children from disaster.
Leading organizations to sign onto the pledge to protect children, or "Promise to Prepare," include the American Academy of Pediatrics, AmeriCares, America's Promise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Child Care Aware of America, Children's Health Fund, Children's Hospital Association, Columbia University National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Community Playthings, Easter Seals, Extension Disaster Education Network, FEMA, First Focus, Foundation for Sustainable Parks and Recreation, GP RED, GreenPlay LLC, Habitat for Humanity, HOPE Worldwide, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, National Fire Protection Agency, National Recreation and Parks Association, New Hampshire Recreation and Parks Association, Points of Light, Primrose Schools, Society for Public Health Education, Trust for America's Health and Youth Service America, Zero to Three.
Please visit www.SavetheChildren.org/US-Disaster to learn more. Find the report infographic, video, and links to the interactive U.S. map, full 2014 Disaster Report Card, and Get Ready Get Safe preparedness resources.
Save the Children invests in childhood – every day, in times of crisis and for our future. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
Harris Poll MethodologyThe Parents Emergency Preparedness Survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Save the Children USA between July 21-24, 2014 among 1,012 parents of children under the age of 18, who are enrolled in daycare or school (grades K-12). This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please see our infographic at www.SavetheChildren.org/US-Disaster.
Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood – every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children,” said Nelson Mandela, one of our world’s great leaders and visionaries, whom we so sadly lost in 2013. Mandela knew that by investing in children, we are investing in our collective future.
We couldn’t agree more. That’s why Save the Children is dedicated to ensuring that every child has the best chance for success – a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood.
In 2013, thanks to those who invested along with us, we achieved lasting, largescale results for children here in the United States and around the world. For example, after Oklahoma’s devastating tornadoes, children and families got the crisis care they needed. W e enabled dozens of damaged childcare centers to provide quality services again after Hurricane Sandy. Children’s voices were heard on Capitol Hill, and early education finally became a national priority. In the Philippines, we provided typhoon victims with vital supplies and support, and we protected and cared for the children of Syria. Children around the world learned to read and succeed in school. And millions more babies survived the most dangerous day – their birth day.
Results like these require the effective management of significant resources, as reported here for 2013, and we are grateful to the many donors and partners who so generously supported our work. As the largest member of Save the Children’s global movement, Save the Children U SA’s financial standing remains very strong, with historic levels of revenue and spending on children’s programming. So we entered 2014 well-positioned to continue investing in childhood.
Please take this opportunity to review the 2013 results for children your investment made possible – and consider continuing your support, both by raising your voice and by making a financial contribution to Save the Children.
Thank you on behalf of the world’s children – and the future we share.
The first 24 hours of a child's life are the most dangerous, with more than one million babies dying each year on their first and only day of life, according to new research published by Save the Children.
The new report, "Ending Newborn Deaths,"shows one half of first day deaths around the world could be prevented if the mother and baby had access to free health care and a skilled midwife.
The children's aid agency says the deaths happen because of premature birth and complications during birth, such as prolonged labor, pre-eclampsia and infection, which can be avoided if quality health experts are present.
The research also found an additional 1.2 million babies are stillborn each year, their heartbeats stopping during labor because of childbirth complications, maternal infections and hypertension.
In a bid to save millions of newborn lives, Save the Children has called on world leaders to commit in 2014 to a blueprint for change – The Five Point Newborn Promise – which focuses on training and equipping enough skilled health workers to make sure no baby is born without proper help, and removing fees for all pregnancy and birth services.
The world has made amazing progress in reducing child mortality during the past decade – nearly halved from 12 million to 6.6 million – thanks to global political action on immunization, treatment of pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria, family planning and nutrition.
But this progress could stall without urgent action to tackle scandalously high numbers of newborns dying. This report warns that newborn deaths now account for nearly half of all under-five deaths.
Parents throughout developing countries are frustrated by the staggering 40 percent of primary-school-age children who are unable to read, write, or do basic math by fourth grade, according to a new report.
Save the Children released the report, "Right to Learn," this afternoon at the United Nations during a presentation co-sponsored by Women Thrive Worldwide, UNICEF, the UN's Global Education First Initiative, UNESCO, ASER Pakistan, and the Center for Universal Education at Brookings Institution. The report's insights come as the global community considers next steps to the UN's Millennium Development Goals – the world's largest anti-poverty effort ever – which expire in December 2015.
The current set of goals have led to record numbers of girls and boys attending school, but learning outcomes in many areas remain grossly inadequate for preparing students to reach their professional aspirations as adults. Parents and advocates from India to Zimbabwe report high teacher absenteeism, overcrowded classrooms, poor facilities, lack of books and more.
"We are facing a real and global crisis in learning," said Meredy Talbot-Zorn, global development manager at Save the Children and co-author of the report. "Parents are frustrated. Right now, we are failing them, and failing children."
"This is a call to action for anyone who cares about the world's children," said Laura Henderson, director of education policy at Women Thrive Worldwide, and a reviewer of the report. "This report brings parents' concerns directly to the world leaders who will shape education priorities around the world."
The report shows that while parents expect their children to learn basic skills at school, they face many barriers for holding schools, service providers and government accountable. The report also cites several country examples of where parents and stakeholders are working together to improve accountability for children's progress in learning and getting positive results.
The findings of the report are based on qualitative research in seven countries, including Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Nepal, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
"When the current Millennium Development Goals were being created, parents and advocates from developing countries were largely left out from being able to provide input," continued Henderson. "That can't happen again. World leaders need to be accountable to parents for the quality of education that their children receive."
Save the Children has included six recommendations for UN institutions and member states to get education and learning for children right:
"There's just too much at stake for decision-makers not to listen to parents and advocates in developing countries about what needs to be done to improve education and learning for the world's children," said Talbot-Zorn.
"When we went out of the house, my father was hit by a collapsed wall. There was blood everywhere. I tried to wake him up but he wasn't moving anymore. The water got even higher and I wanted to carry my father with the tide but I thought we would both die.
I was scared and crying.
I swam and swam and every time I was tired I would cling to a log. Then I would swim again. It was a miracle that I survived.
When I was swimming, the rain felt like needles on my face. I was very afraid for my mother and siblings as well as I thought they were all dead."
Drifting through the village, Rafael finally fell asleep.
"When I woke up it was a miracle because I was in another village and I saw some of my friends."
He began walking to the evacuation center to meet with his family. The first thing he told his mother when he got there was that his dad had died and they both cried together.
His mother told him that they had been through similar things on their way out. They have a baby and one of the youngest children is disabled with slow mental and physical development.
"Dad was really protective and generous. Although we are poor, he would always make sure that he would bring something home to us after work. Whenever he prepared his coffee he would share half of the cup with me."
They are now living in a van outside the center as they cannot stand the stench inside.
"We are getting sick, my siblings are always coughing because it is very cold and we don't have any dry clothes at the moment. We don't have anything with us.
The problem is that they have two baby siblings and they don't have water. They are drinking water from a water hose and it is not clean."
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