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National Commission on Children and Disasters
Detail: In December 2007, the US Congress passed the Kids in Disasters Well-being, Safety and Health (WISH) Act and paved the way for creation of a National Commission on Children and Disasters. The Commission is a bi-partisan panel appointed by the President and Congressional leaders and held its first meeting on October 14, 2008 three years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast and exposed the lack of preparedness for the evacuation, shelter and repatriation of children and their families.

A Save the Children field report from San Antonio reports a cavernous warehouse, unsuitable for families with children, was used as a shelter during Hurricane Ike. There were no portable cribs for infants and small children. Young children were free to roam the huge facility. One was seen near a busy road. Many of the cots were far from restrooms, which were portable toilets outside the facility. The showers were in the parking lot. The lack of planning for the needs of families and small children added enormous strain to an already stressful situation.

Mark Shriver, Vice President and Managing Director of Save the Children's U.S. Programs, chairs the ten-member National Commission on Children and Disasters. Over a period of two years, the Commission will examine and assess the needs of children independently, and in relation to the preparation, response and recovery from all emergencies, hazards and disasters. "With the number of Presidential disaster declarations rising over the past two decades, and continued accounts and images of children in need, this Commission simply cannot take two years to develop recommendations," said Shriver. "I'd like to get practical and innovative proposals to the next President and Congress in the next six to eight months."

For further reading refer to the October 14 Washington Post editorial about the National Commission on Children and Disasters at
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/13/AR2008101302279.html
Source: http://www.savethechildren.org/newsroom/2008/national-commission-children-disasters.html, http://www.savethechildren.org/newsroom/2007/congress-recognizes-children-s-needs-in-disasters.html
Date: October 20 2008