NJ Gets High Marks For Child Emergency Plans
By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
September 4, 2013
New Jersey is getting high marks for making plans to protect children during emergencies.
Save the Children, a child-focused emergency response organization, is critical of 28 states for failing to meet minimum standards to safeguard kids in schools and child care centers.
Richard Bland oversees the research for that report card. He’s congratulating New Jersey officials for requiring schools and child care facilities to have an evacuation plan, a family reunification plan, and a plan for children with disabilities.
“They saw the need to expedite the improvement of these regulations. So now all forms of regulated child care require these three standards that we believe are the gold standard in emergency plans.”
Bland says major storms show the need for those plans.
“After Katrina it took six months to reunite the last child with her family. Imagine after Hurricane Sandy taking six whole months to reunite the last child who was separated from the family because of a lack of reunification plans and a lack of preparation.”
Education Commissioner Chris Cerf says New Jersey takes that kind of planning very seriously.
“There are plans in place for every contingency we can imagine. That isn’t so say things couldn’t be dished up that we haven’t imagined, but we really do try to plan in advance. Most of this was done in advance of Sandy, but we certainly have refined and improved the planning based on the lessons learned during Sandy.”
Cerf says the state is pleased to get national recognition for its efforts.