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Disaster Preparation and Response

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NCHE Resources | Federal Resources | Resources for Helping Students Cope
Other Resources | Sample Forms, Materials and Policies

NCHE Resources

Connecting Schools and Displaced Students brief series
This brief series explains how the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act applies to students displaced by disaster and how the Act can assist these students and their families. Each brief in the series targets information either to youth experiencing homelessness on their own, relief agencies, or school district administrators. The series includes the following handbooks:
  • Meeting the Educational Needs of Students Displaced by Disasters: Youth on Their Own
  • What Relief Agencies Should Know About the Educational Rights of Children Displaced by Disasters
  • What School District Administrators Should Know About the Educational Rights of Children Displaced by Disasters
    Download Connecting Schools and Displaced Students briefs.

  • Connecting Schools and Displaced Students handbook series
    This handbook series explains how the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act applies to students displaced by disaster and how the Act can assist these students and their families. Each handbook in the series targets information either to parents of displaced children, relief agencies, or educators.The series includes the following handbooks:
  • After the Storm: Information for Parents on How Schools Can Help After Disasters (A Handbook for Parents)
  • Disaster Relief Agencies and Schools: Working Together to Ensure School Enrollment and Success (A Handbook for Local Liaisons and State Coordinators)
  • From the School Office to the Classroom: Strategies for Enrolling and Supporting Students Experiencing Homelessness
  • School as a Safety Net: Connecting Displaced Children With Educational and Support Services (A Handbook for Relief Agency Staff and Volunteers)
    Download Connecting Schools and Displaced Students handbooks.

  • A McKinney-Vento Toolbox: Constructing a Robust and Rigorous Homeless Education Program, In Case of Disaster and Every Day
    This toolbox is designed to help school districts implement the McKinney-Vento Act fully, so they can address the needs of children and youth experiencing homelessness on a daily basis and in times of disaster. The toolbox contains information and practical lessons learned and resources developed during the recovery process following the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes.
    Download A McKinney-Vento Toolbox: Constructing a Robust and Rigorous Homeless Education Program, In Case of Disaster and Every Day.

    In Their Own Words: Schools and Students Overcoming Adversity
    This NCHE publication provides readers with a window into the daily challenges and triumphs of the schools and students affected by August 2005's Hurricane Katrina. In Their Own Words, in large part, is a first-person account of the hurricane's effects on education on the Gulf Coast during the few weeks and months after landfall and since. It is the voices of the students and the school, district, and relief agency staff who were closest to the challenges that resulted from the hurricane.
    Download In Their Own Words: Schools and Students Overcoming Adversity.


    Federal Resources

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Caring for Children in a Disaster
    This webpage from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information and resources on how to support children prior to, during, and following a disaster.
    Visit the Caring for Children in a Disaster webpage.
    View the CDC's Interim Immunization Recommendations for Individuals Displaced by a Disaster.

    DisasterAssistance.gov: The Nation's First Stop for Disaster Relief
    The Disaster Assistance Improvement Program's (DAIP) mission is to provide disaster survivors with information, support, services, and a means to access and apply for disaster assistance through joint data-sharing efforts between federal, tribal, state, local, and private sector partners.
    Visit the Disaster Assistance Improvement Program website.

    Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA)
    FEMA's website provides disaster victims with information on how to access a variety of support services, including government benefits, hotlines for finding loved ones, and more.
    Visit the FEMA website.
    Additional FEMA resources:
    Keeping Children Safe after Hurricane Harvey (available in English, Arabic,Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, Urdu, and Vietnamese)
    National Disaster Housing Resource Center
    National Disaster Recovery Framework

    Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Policy Guidance: Disclosure of Student Information Related to Emergencies and Disasters
    This guidance from the U.S. Department of Education, issued in June 2010, answers questions about the sharing of personally identifiable information from students' education records to outside parties when responding to emergencies, including natural or man-made disasters.
    Download Disclosure of Student Information Related to Emergencies and Disasters.

    Lessons Learned for Protecting and Educating Children after the Gulf Coast Hurricanes
    This May 2006 report from the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) discusses the challenges encountered and lessons learned in locating missing children, locating and serving Louisiana's displaced foster children, and reopening K-12 schools and educating displaced school-aged children after the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes.
    Download Lessons Learned for Protecting and Educating Children after the Gulf Coast Hurricanes.

    Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance Center
    The Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance (TA) Center supports grantees funded under the Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) discretionary grant program by providing emergency management resources, training, and publications. The Center also helps non-grantee local educational agencies (LEAs) and private schools with improving and strengthening their emergency management plans through the provision of resources, responses to technical assistance requests, and facilitation of emergency management for schools training events.
    Visit the REMS TA Center website.

    Tips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event
    This brief from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers tips to parents and teachers on recognizing the effects of a disaster on their children or students, and helping them work through their feelings. Tips are separated by age group.
    Download Tips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event.

    U.S. Department of Education: Tips for Helping Students Recovering from Traumatic Events
    This webpage from the U.S. Department of Education provides practical information for parents and students who are coping with the aftermath of a natural disaster, as well as teachers, coaches, school administrators and others who are helping those affected.
    Visit the Tips for Helping Students Recovering from Traumatic Events webpage.


    Resources for Helping Students Cope

    A Practical Guide for Crisis Response in our Schools
    After the Storm: A Guide to Help Children Cope With the Psychological Effects of a Hurricane
    This guide, published by 7-Dippity.com in the wake of the 2004 hurricane season that devastated Florida, provides information, activities, and coping strategies to help parents and children cope with their reactions and feelings resulting from a hurricane and its aftermath.
    Download After the Storm: A Guide to Help Children Cope With the Psychological Effects of a Hurricane.

    Coping with Disasters
    This webpage from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) offers suggestions for how to help young children deal with witnessing or being directly affected by the destruction of a natural disaster.
    Visit the NAEYC Coping with Disasters webpage.

    Hurricane Assessment and Referral Tool for Children and Adolescents
    This two-page tool from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network assists providers in determining a student's risk categories and mental health needs and in making appropriate mental health referrals. The tool can be adapted easily for use in a variety of disaster situations, including earthquakes, fires, and tornadoes, as well as in assessing the needs of children and youth who have experienced domestic violence, abuse, or other trauma.
    Download Hurricane Assessment and Referral Tool for Children and Adolescents.

    National Assocation of School Psychologists (NASP): Helping Children After a Natural Disaster: Information for Families and Educators
    The webpage from the National Association of School Psychologists provides parents and schools with needed information on how to support school-age children in the wake of a natural disaster.
    Visit the NASP Helping Children After a Natural Disaster: Information for Families and Educators webpage.
    Related NASP webpages:
    Download New Schools for Students with Disabilities: Tips for Families Who Have Been Relocated.
    Download Relocated Students With Special Needs: Recommendations for Receiving Schools.

    National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Natural Disasters
    The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) brings a singular and comprehensive focus to childhood trauma. Combining knowledge of child development, expertise in the full range of child traumatic experiences, and dedication to evidence-based practices, the NCTSN changes the course of children's lives by changing the course of their care. NCTSN's Natural Disasters webpage provides information specifically on addressing issues of trauma related to natural disasters.
    Visit the NCTSN Natural Disasters webpage.


    Other Resources

    American Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recover
    The American Red Cross (ARC) is a humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief, and education. ARC staff and volunteers work to deliver vital services in times of need, including providing relief and support to those in crisis, to helping communities and individuals be prepared to respond in emergencies.
    Visit the ARC Disaster Relief and Recovery Services webpage.
    Visit the ARC Emergency Resource Library webpage.

    Coordinated Assistance Network (CAN)
    CAN is a multi-organizational partnership among some of the nation's leading nonprofit disaster relief organizations. Working in tandem with state and local relief agencies CAN is forging a new model of disaster recovery and preparedness for the United States. CAN participates in community-led preparedness and response coalitions focusing on best practices to serve those in need. As part of its work, CAN partnered with FEMA to develop a web-based database to share information between agencies and act as a repository of client data collected by all local and national partners.
    Visit the CAN website.

    Homeless Education Advocacy Manual: Disaster Edition
    This manual from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty informs advocates and families concerned about the educational needs of children and youth displaced from their homes due to a disaster. It includes information about topics such as which students are considered homeless under federal law; methods of advocating for individual students; methods of advocating for system-wide change; securing immediate school enrollments; ensuring stable school placements; and accessing necessary and beneficial services such as transportation and academic assistance.
    Download Homeless Education Advocacy Manual: Disaster Edition.

    National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD)
    NVOAD is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, membership-based organization that builds resiliency in communities nationwide. It serves as the forum where organizations share knowledge and resources throughout the disaster cycle - preparation, response, recovery and mitigation - to help disaster survivors and their communities.
    Visit the NVOAD website.


    Sample Forms, Materials, and Policies

    Colorado Department of Education: Disaster Resources
    Fairfax County Public Schools: Emergency Planning and Crisis Response
    This webpage from Fairfax County Public Schools details the district's emergency preparedness and response plans, which have been cited by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as national models.
    Visit the FCPS Emergency Planning and Crisis Response webpage.

    Florida Department of Education: Disaster Resources
    Madison Metropolitan School District: Guide on Enrollment and Service Provision for Students Displaced by Hurricane Katrina
    This guide from the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) explains how MMSD will respond to the needs of students displaced by Hurricane Katrina that wish to attend school within the district. The guide covers issues such as immediate enrollment, free and reduced lunch, post-trauma intervention services, and more.
    Download Guide on Enrollment and Service Provision for Students Displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

    Oregon School Boards Association (OSBA): Student Safety Center
    This webpage from the Oregon School Boards Association (OSBA) provides various checklists and resources related to emergency preparedness and response.
    Visit the OSBA Student Safety Centerwebpage.

    Preparing and Responding to Technological and Ecological Disasters
    Focusing on the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, this presentation describes the human response to disaster and what can be done to support the mental health of children as they cope with the trauma of disaster.
    Download Preparing and Responding to Technological and Ecological Disasters.

    Taking Care of Yourself in the Aftermath of Trauma: Maintaining your Balance
    This presentation provides stress management techniques to use to maintain physical and mental health and balance in the aftermath of a traumatic event, such as a disaster.
    Download Taking Care of Yourself in the Aftermath of Trauma: Maintaining your Balance.

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    The National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) is the U.S. Department of Education's technical assistance center for the federal Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) Program. NCHE is housed at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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