Healthcare firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP) and Save the Children have announced a partnership to protect the millions of children who are at risk of natural or man-made climate disasters.
The Resilient Children/Resilient Communities Initiative — funded through a $2 million, three-year grant from GSK — will analyze and recommend procedures, trainings and guidance to help localities shield children from post-disaster devastation.
Every day, 69 million children spend the day at childcare or school, according to Save the Children, but 21 states and the District of Columbia lack basic preparedness standards to protect them in schools and childcare centers, and 40 percent of American parents do not have an emergency plan. Thay may be why it took seven months to reunify the last child after Hurricane Katrina, for example.
Emergency response plans often fail to address the specific needs of children and their families before, during and after disasters, according to Save the Children. Child care centers and schools are left out of disaster planning, and communities may not have the resources and capacity to provide safe, non-traumatic sheltering and displacement services. Slow recovery can delay the return to “normalcy” that kids need, and the long-term impact can be devastating, studies show.
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Over a three-year period, the Resilient Children/Resilient Communities Initiative will develop two pilot programs — one in Washington County, Arkansas, and one in Putnam County, New York. The partnership will guide participating communities through a crisis simulation, and help them develop a sustainable, child-focused action plan. Impact will be measured using the Community Preparedness Index (CPI), an evidence-based measure of community preparedness previously developed by Save the Children in collaboration with NCDP.
The initiative will form a National Children Resilience Board (NCRB) that will identify national policies and programs to serve as vehicles for improving preparedness for children nationally. The initiative also will launch a national outreach campaign to educate communities nationwide on how to better care for children following disasters.
This initiative builds on past work and collaboration between NCDP and Save the Children, both collectively and independently, to assist vulnerable populations in the wake of disasters. GSK says it also is part of its global five-year partnership with Save the Children to help save the lives of 1 million children worldwide.
GSK also has been engaged with helping to improve health outcomes for vulnerable children around the world. In 2013, GSK and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) launched a joint initiative to make vaccines more resistant to heat, in order to reduce the need for refrigeration. The collaborative effort hopes to increase access to life-saving vaccines for millions of children in the global South.