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The Response to Superstorm Sandy Highlights the Importance of Recovery Planning for Child Care Nationwide


The availability of child care after an emergency or disaster is an important part of recovery efforts because it ensures that children are safe while parents make efforts to rebuild their lives and communities. When Superstorm Sandy made landfall on October 29, 2012, it caused widespread flooding that substantially disrupted child care services in New Jersey and New York. Lessons learned from these States' experiences in responding to and recovering from Superstorm Sandy could help ACF to improve nationwide emergency preparedness for child care. In February 2011, ACF recommended that each State develop a statewide disaster plan for child care, and legislation enacted in November 2014 requires each State to do so.


We collected information from the lead agencies in New Jersey and New York that administer the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) program. In fiscal year (FY) 2015, the CCDF program made $5.35 billion available to States to help low-income families obtain child care so that parent(s) could work or participate in training or education. Specifically, we collected information on each State's emergency preparedness for, response to, and recovery from Superstorm Sandy as related to child care. We also conducted telephone interviews with 15 child care providers in these States to gain insight about their experiences during and after Superstorm Sandy. Additionally, we collected information from ACF and reviewed all 51 States' CCDF plans for FYs 2014 and 2015 to determine the status of States' emergency planning for child care since Superstorm Sandy.


Before Superstorm Sandy, New Jersey and New York's emergency planning did not include the development of strategies for the restoring or rebuilding of child care facilities and infrastructure after a disaster as recommended by ACF. After Superstorm Sandy, these States established post-disaster task forces that assisted child care providers with the recovery and rebuilding process. However, some child care providers in New Jersey and New York still reported challenges with rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy. These challenges included paying for repairs out of pocket and a lengthy application process for disaster assistance. Since Superstorm Sandy, ACF has taken steps to improve nationwide emergency preparedness, response, and recovery for child care. However, in the CCDF plan for FYs 2014 and 2015, less than half of all States reported including or planning to include the restoring or rebuilding of child care facilities and infrastructure after a disaster in their emergency preparedness and response plans.


Because of legislation enacted in November 2014, States are required to have statewide child care disaster plans; however, the requirements do not explicitly specify that these plans must include planning for the restoring or rebuilding of child care facilities and infrastructure after a disaster. Therefore, we recommend that ACF require States to include planning for this area in their statewide child care disaster plans. ACF concurred with this recommendation.