Better Help for Systems-Involved Kids After Natural Disasters

Posted November 15, 2019, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Casey funds a new effort to develop evidence-based practices to help systems-involved youth during natural disasters.

The Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion has pro­vid­ed assis­tance over the years to com­mu­ni­ties respond­ing to cat­a­stroph­ic nat­ur­al dis­as­ters, includ­ing Hur­ri­cane Maria, which struck Puer­to Rico and the U.S. Vir­gin Islands, and Hur­ri­cane Har­vey, which pro­duced his­toric flood­ing in Hous­ton, both in 2017. The Foun­da­tion has joined with oth­er large phil­an­thropies, char­i­ta­ble orga­ni­za­tions and indi­vid­ual givers to do so, rec­og­niz­ing that in times of urgent need, all avail­able resources should be mar­shaled to save lives and jump-start recovery.

Through­out 2019, the Foun­da­tion worked to deter­mine how a nation­al phil­an­thropy ded­i­cat­ed to improv­ing the well-being of young peo­ple — includ­ing youth involved in the child wel­fare and juve­nile jus­tice sys­tems — might invest in a more tar­get­ed way when dis­as­ters strike. Put anoth­er way: How could the Casey Foun­da­tion focus on doing what it does best and be use­ful to the com­plex task of respond­ing to our worst nat­ur­al disasters?

The result is a new kind of Foun­da­tion grant to help lead­ers in local and state gov­ern­ment plan effec­tive­ly to pro­mote the well-being of youth after nat­ur­al dis­as­ters. Over the next two years, Child Trends, a non­par­ti­san research orga­ni­za­tion, will devel­op and share an evi­dence-based tool kit for pub­lic sys­tems to address the trau­ma nat­ur­al dis­as­ters impose on sys­tems-involved youth.

By pro­vid­ing the right kinds of plan­ning tools, we can help chil­dren and fam­i­lies affect­ed by nat­ur­al dis­as­ters,” says Foun­da­tion Chief Admin­is­tra­tive Offi­cer John Kim. Our col­lab­o­ra­tion with Child Trends will pro­duce an essen­tial, evi­dence-based resource for state and local offi­cials help­ing young peo­ple nego­ti­ate dis­as­ter-induced trauma.”

In addi­tion to review­ing exist­ing research and poli­cies and reach­ing out to experts on trau­ma and nat­ur­al dis­as­ters, Child Trends will con­duct focus groups with young peo­ple who have been affect­ed by these events in places like Cal­i­for­nia, Louisiana and Puer­to Rico.

The trau­ma of liv­ing through a nat­ur­al dis­as­ter can have seri­ous and last­ing effects on chil­dren and youth,” says Car­ol Emig, pres­i­dent of Child Trends. As recog­ni­tion of the impact of trau­ma on young peo­ple grows, this tool kit will be a crit­i­cal resource to states and local­i­ties as they deep­en their dis­as­ter response strate­gies. While we can­not stop nat­ur­al dis­as­ters, we can arm youth-serv­ing sys­tems with evi­dence-based guid­ance and resources to sup­port and pro­tect the young peo­ple in their care.”

It is expect­ed that the com­plete tool kit will be made avail­able to local and state lead­ers in the sum­mer of 2021. For more infor­ma­tion, con­tact project lead Jes­si­ca Dym Bartlett.

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