A new research report highlights that ten years after Hurricane Katrina exposed the widespread neglect of children in US emergency planning, most recommendations of the national commission created to address those gaps remain unfulfilled.
Nearly four in five of the recommendations issued by the National Commission on Children and Disasters in its 2010 final report have not been fully met, according to Save the Children's new national disaster report card, entitled: ‘Still at Risk: U.S. Children 10 Years After Hurricane Katrina.’
Hurricane Katrina had a devastating impact on children, displacing hundreds of thousands from their homes, schools and communities, stranding many in unsafe sheltering and temporary housing conditions: sometimes separated from their families for weeks at a time, and leaving tens of thousands of traumatized children without adequate services to help them recover.
A subsequent investigation by the bipartisan National Commission on Children and Disasters, appointed by President George W. Bush and Congress, identified major gaps in the nation's ability to protect US children across 11 areas of disaster planning: including mental health, emergency medical services, child care, education, sheltering, housing and evacuation.
In the first comprehensive review of the commission's 81 recommendations to address those gaps, the new report finds that only 17 have been fully met, with an additional 44 still a work in progress. The remaining recommendations – 20 in all – have not been addressed at all.
Despite important efforts to address children's disaster-related needs at federal agencies, the new report concludes that more significant progress on the commission's recommendations has been hampered by:
- A lack of leadership and accountability on children in disasters, including designated point-people at the White House and every relevant federal agency;
- Inadequate Congressional funding; and
- Insufficient coordination between federal, state and local governments.