"Across the country, natural disasters, man-made crises, or medical events can affect the routine ways child welfare agencies operate and serve children, youth and families. It is especially important for agencies caring for vulnerable populations-such as abused and neglected children-to do what they can to prepare for these disasters. Federal statute, under the Child and Family Services Improvement Act of 2006, now requires States and Tribes to develop plans in preparation for a disaster. At the same time, child welfare agencies are striving to build stronger systems to improve outcomes for children and families. Many are engaged in systemic reforms, working to strengthen critical structures and systems to improve their performance. Program Improvement Plans and Child and Family Service IV-B plans identify steps to improving safety, permanency and well being outcomes for children and families. Fortunately, many of the steps agencies might take to prepare for disasters can also strengthen systems critical to ongoing agency management. For example, an agency may need to enhance automated information systems to enable staff to access case information from any location during a disaster-but more accessible automated systems could also improve the agency's success in managing cases on a day-to-day basis. This publication has a dual purpose-to help managers think through what they might put in place to cope with disasters, and to highlight how taking these steps can improve systems for serving children and families."
United States. Department of Health and Human Services