Child Care and Child Welfare
There is a lot of activity on child care and child welfare happening at ACF right now, Dodgen said. For example, ACF has trained all of the nation’s State Administrators for Family Violence Prevention and Services on disaster preparedness, including attention to the needs of children exposed to domestic violence. ACF has also trained Head Start executives in preparedness planning. ACF recently collaborated with state and NGO partners via Child Care Task Forces and Coalitions following the Joplin tornadoes and Hurricanes Isaac and Sandy to assess the impacts to systems serving children and to promote children’s resilience and recovery. (Efforts toward improved child and family welfare during disaster recovery are discussed further in Chapter 8.)
Next Steps for HHS
HHS has been responsive to the recommendations of the Commission and other stakeholders, and has covered a lot of the basic areas, Dodgen said, but there is still work to be done. The CHILD working group has prioritized three additional areas of focus for 2012-2013: children with special health care needs and other subpopulations of children traditionally under-represented in planning efforts; pregnant/breastfeeding women and neonates; and enhancing inter-departmental and NGO collaboration. The working group plans to submit its second progress report to HHS leadership at the end of 2013. In closing, Dodgen said that Assistant Secretary Lurie and ASPR are committed to ensuring that children are integrated into all emergency preparedness, response, and recovery efforts. HHS policies and programs will continue to emphasize and address the disaster health and human services needs of children and families. He stressed that, in the face of the sequester budget challenges, there is no longer room for isolated projects. Collaboration across federal agencies and with outside stakeholders is essential.