Sneak Preview: Disaster Rebuilding Sought for Child Care Sites

January 15, 2016 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xgran_bookshot(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the Federal Grants Management Handbook.) In response to concerns about child care availability following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) recommended that the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) require states receiving grant funding under the Child Care Development Fund to develop plans for the rebuilding of child care facilities impacted by such disasters.

As a result of the costal damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, 697 child care providers in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York closed, the inspector general said. “The availability of child care can help expedite recovery efforts by ensuring that children are safe while parents visit damaged property, access public benefits and make other efforts to rebuild their lives,” the inspector general added.

ACF administers the Child Care Development Fund, which supports low-income working families through subsidized child cares services and by improving the quality of early care and afterschool programs. For states to receive these funds, they must submit a plan every three years for ACF review and approval.

In February 2011, ACF issued a memorandum to states administering the grant funds recommending, but not requiring, that states develop a plan to address emergency preparedness, response and recovery efforts specific to child care services and programs. The memorandum focused on five key areas: (1) planning for continuation of services to Child Care Development Fund families; (2) coordination with other state/territorial agencies and key partners; (3) emergency preparedness regulatory requirements for child care providers; (4) the provision of temporary child care services after a disaster; and (5) restoring or rebuilding child care facilities and infrastructure after a disaster.

ACF requested that states, in their federal Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 and 2015 plans, document the status of their emergency planning efforts to identify their technical assistance needs.

The OIG found that although New Jersey and New York, prior to Hurricane Sandy, had developed emergency preparedness plans for child care, neither state planned for post-disaster restoring or rebuilding of child care facilities and infrastructure — the fifth key area mentioned in the ACF memorandum. For example, New Jersey did not conduct emergency planning with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) before Hurricane Sandy to determine which child care services were eligible for reimbursement under FEMA’s Public Assistance grant program.

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time on Thompson’s Grants Compliance Expert site.)

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