When a natural disaster or terror attack hits, families often need years to recover from the physical, environmental and economic damage it wreaks. That’s why Children’s Health Fund is still on the ground months and years after initially responding to crises. Our programs have been in South Florida since 1992’s Hurricane Andrew and on the Gulf Coast since 2005’s Hurricane Katrina; we’re also still working in areas of New York and New Jersey hit by Sandy.
Because we are mobile, Children's Health Fund has the flexibility to go into rural and urban communities, as well as disaster and public health situations – anywhere that care is needed the most. We also collaborate with the National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP) at Columbia University's Earth Institute (NCDP) to help us document and assess the impact of major disasters on children and the communities they live in.
In 2013, Children's Health Fund announced a five-year gift to the NCDP to support research and policy initiatives with respect to the special needs of children threatened by or affected by large-scale disasters.
Since the September 11 attacks, Children’s Health Fund has played a key role in advocating for children’s needs in preparedness planning. Children's Health Fund brought information and expertise to the federal legislative process, ensuring that these issues were included in federal bioterrorism legislation.
Children's Health Fund was also concerned about how children and families were coping with the reality of these attacks and a very uncertain future with respect to ongoing threats. The Children's Health Fund/Marist Institute polls were the first to show how the events of September 11 affected children and families throughout the city, not just in lower Manhattan. They also were the first to discover that low-income children were the most vulnerable to psychological trauma following the terror attacks.
Children's Health Fund has conducted groundbreaking research on the mental health effects of Hurricane Katrina in 2006. The survey found that mental health needs had skyrocketed while local resources remained limited. Our Community Support and Resiliency Program has helped fill that need. These mobile mental health units are specially designed to help our programs in Gulfport/Biloxi, MS; New Orleans, LA and Baton Rouge, LA.The program has also provided critically needed professional support and training for mental health providers throughout Mississippi and Louisiana.
We are collaborating with an internationally recognized organization to bring art therapy programs for children in post-disaster situations to the Gulf. In addition, we have provided specially designed “Coping Boxes” to children affected by Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy as a tangible, therapeutic tool to help in their developmental and psychodynamic therapy.