National Preparedness Month (September 2015)
In support of National Preparedness Month―sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security―to honor its Ready Campaign, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) is offering disaster preparedness resources to enhance our nation's capacity to prepare for and respond to terrorism, mass violence, and disasters.
Disasters and terrorism can have devastating physical and psychological effects on children and families. Children and adolescents are at risk for stress reactions including sleep and eating disturbances, irritability, anger, headaches, and stomachaches. They may also have behavior problems at school, lose interest in activities they once enjoyed, avoid friends, or engage in dangerous or risky behaviors.
To significantly improve the emotional well-being of children and families after a disaster, many strategies can be put in place beforehand. "Being prepared for terrorism and disasters reduces anxiety, and promotes confidence and resilience in children and families," says Alan Steinberg, PhD, associate director of the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress at UCLA.
The following materials are designed to help children, families, school personnel, and communities become more educated and prepared in the event of a disaster.
Building Community Resilience for Children and Families (2007) (PDF)
A guide for mental health and other professionals about building community resilience, and helping communities improve their capacity to respond effectively to disasters and acts of terrorism. It includes a wealth of information, suggestions, and resources for businesses, cultural and faith-based groups and organizations, and first responders. It also offers related information on health care, media, mental health, public health, and school and personal childcare settings.
Coping in Hard Times—Fact Sheet Series
This series discusses challenging financial circumstances and economic hardships that can negatively affect youth, families, and communities. It offers practical ways to address the challenges during economic hardships by improving a sense of safety, calming, self- and community efficacy, connectedness, and hope.
- Coping in Hard Times: Fact Sheet for Community Organizations and Leaders (2012) (PDF)
- Coping in Hard Times: Fact Sheet for Parents (2011) (PDF)
- Coping in Hard Times: Fact Sheet for School Staff (2011) (PDF)
- Coping in Hard Times: Fact Sheet for Youth (2011) (PDF)
Psychological First Aid (PFA)
An evidence-informed modular approach for helping survivors of disasters and other emergencies. Designed to reduce the initial distress caused by disasters, and to foster short- and long-term adaptive functioning and coping skills. There are several resources on PFA including:
- Psychological First Aid Field Operations Guide (2nd Edition)
The PFA guide provides extensive detail on each of the eight PFA core actions and includes survivor handouts. Foreign language versions (Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, and Norwegian) of the guide are available as well as adaptations for community religious professionals, the Medical Reserve Corps, and schools.
- Psychological First Aid for Schools® (PFA-S)
PFA-S is an evidence-informed intervention model to assist students, families, school personnel, and school partners in the immediate aftermath of an emergency. PFA-S is designed to reduce the initial distress caused by emergencies and to foster short- and long-term adaptive functioning and coping. PFA-S assumes that students and staff members may experience a broad range of early reactions (e.g., physical, cognitive, psychological, behavioral, spiritual) following an emergency. Some of these reactions can cause distress that interferes with adaptive coping, but support from informed, compassionate, and caring professionals can help students and staff members recover from these reactions. PFA-S has the potential to mitigate the development of severe mental health problems or long-term difficulties in recovery by identifying individuals who may need additional services and linking them to such services as needed.
- PFA Mobile® App
A free download app designed to assist responders who provide psychological first aid (PFA) as part of an organized response effort to adults, families, and children. The app provides responders with:
- Summaries of PFA fundamentals
- PFA interventions matched to specific concerns and needs of survivors
- Mentor tips for applying PFA in the field
- A self-assessment tool for determining readiness to conduct PFA
- A survivors' needs form for simplified data collection and easy referral
Available on iTunes and Google Play, the app will work on any mobile Apple device (iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch) and Android devices.
The PFA Mobile App is a joint project by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for PTSD in partnership with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Department of Defense's National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2), and the VA’s Patient Care Services.
- Psychological First Aid® (PFA) Online
A free six-hour interactive course in NCTSN's Learning Center for Child and Adolescent Trauma. Participants can play the role of a provider in a postdisaster scenario. Appropriate for both those new to disaster response and seasoned professionals. Features activities, video demonstrations, and tips from trauma experts and survivors. This project was funded by the SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), the National Center for PTSD, and the National Association of County and City Health Officials.
Responding to Crisis in the Aftermath of Disasters
Sixteen educational vignettes demonstrating intervention strategies with children and adults in the aftermath of a terrorist or disaster event. Produced in partnership with the National Center for PTSD.
Skills for Psychological Recovery (SPR)
SPR is an evidence-informed modular intervention that aims to help survivors gain skills to manage distress and cope with post-disaster stress and adversity. SPR is appropriate to use in the Recovery Phase by mental health professionals and other disaster recovery workers. It can be delivered in a variety of settings (e.g., schools, clinics, hospitals, assisted living facilities, houses of worship, community centers, libraries, and homes). SPR has also been used to build skills in children and families prior to a disaster. SPR is not formal mental health treatment, but a secondary prevention model that utilizes skills-building components that have been found helpful in a variety of post-trauma situations. Research suggests that a skills-building approach is more effective than supportive counseling. SPR is appropriate for developmental levels across the lifespan, and is culturally informed. Skills can be taught individually, with families, and in groups.
- Masters of Disaster® Curriculum
A series of lesson plans that help organizations educate youth about important disaster safety and preparedness. Contains "lessons, activities, and demonstrations on disaster-related topics that organizations can incorporate into daily or thematic programming. The curriculum is non-sequential, allowing organizers to choose the lesson plans that best fit into their programming." Materials meet national educational standards, and are targeted for lower elementary (grades K–2), upper elementary (grades 3–5), and middle school (grades 6–8).
National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)
- Checklist for School Personnel to Evaluate and Implement the Mental Health Component of Your School Crisis and Emergency Plan (2003) (PDF)
A checklist for educators and school personnel to determine how well their school is prepared to respond to the immediate and long-term psychological effects of a crisis or disaster on students, their families, and staff. Offers many practical suggestions for developing procedures and plans for mitigating & prevention, preparation, response, and recovery.
- General Introduction to School Safety and Trauma in Schools
Facts and risks about trauma in school systems. Designed for educators and others working in the education system.
- Psychological First Aid for Schools (PFA-S)
PFA-S is an evidence-informed approach for assisting children, adolescents, adults, and families in the aftermath of a school emergency. The field operations guide includes a description of each core action, guidelines for conducting PFA-S in different group formats, and for different school staff.
- The 3 R's of School Crises and Disasters: Readiness, Response, and Recovery
Tips' to help educators assess their school's preparedness in the event of a crisis or disaster. Includes suggestions and links to resources for each stage.
Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance Center
Information and resources about emergency management to help schools, school districts, and institutions of higher education learn more about developing, implementing, and evaluating school emergency operation plans.
- Monster Guard
The first mobile app by the American Red Cross that's designed specifically for kids. Follow Maya, Chad, Olivia and all the monsters as they teach kids (aged 7-11) how to prepare for real-life emergencies-at home plus other environments-in a fun and engaging game. Sponsored by Disney, this free app is available to download on iOS and Android mobile and tablet devices.
- Flat Stanley and Flat Stella
Flat Stanley and Flat Stella are characters that have been chosen as “ambassadors” in a campaign to promote disaster preparedness among children. Children and their parents can create their own FEMA Flat Stanley or Flat Stella, and then share with other children (individually or in classroom settings) the steps they have taken to support preparedness throughout their homes, schools, and communities.
A website designed to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies including natural and man-made disasters. Advises individuals to: (1) create an emergency supply kit, (2) make a family emergency plan, and (3) become informed about the types of emergencies that could occur and appropriate ways to respond. Offers suggestions, materials, and resources for each. Ready Kids is to help kids, parents, and educators to increase children's preparedness skills.
- Family Preparedness Tips
Suggestions for ways to be better prepared for and deal with emergencies.
- Family Preparedness: Thinking Ahead (English) (PDF)
- Family Preparedness: Thinking Ahead (Armenian) (PDF)
- Family Preparedness: Thinking Ahead (Korean) (PDF)
- Family Preparedness: Thinking Ahead (Russian) (PDF)
- Family Preparedness: Thinking Ahead (Spanish) (PDF)
- Family Preparedness: Thinking Ahead (Vietnamese) (PDF)
Resources to help children and families prepare for, get through, and recover from the effects of natural disasters, mass violence, and terrorism.
- Simple Evacuation Activities for Children and Adolescents
Tips for parents and kids on activities that can be done before, during, and after evacuations. It is a good idea to have a few that your kids like planned out as a part of your family preparedness plan.
- Wallet-Sized Record of Family Emergency Contact Information
Form for recording emergency contact information that can be folded and kept in a wallet.
- Let’s Get Ready! Planning Together for Emergencies
Tips, activities, and other tools to help families prepare for emergencies (available in English and Spanish).
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Resources, practical information, disaster maps, applications for assistance, links to related news & media archives, and much more. "FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards."
National Commission on Children and Disasters
Findings, recommendations, and resources on: mental health, child physical health, and trauma, emergency medical services and pediatric transport, disaster case management, child care and early education, elementary and secondary education, child welfare and juvenile justice, sheltering, housing, evacuation and reunification, state and local government, and relevant activities in emergency management.
- Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR)
ASPR is the lead federal agency in preventing, preparedness for, and responding to the adverse health effects of public health emergencies and disasters. The division of At-Risk, Behavioral Helath and Community Reslience (ABC) has a collection of resources to ensure the functional needs of at-risk individuals are addressed. They have developed the Disaster Behavioral Health Concept of Operations and the Disaster Behavioral Health Capacity Assessment Tool. It also recently formed the National Advisory Committee on Children and Disasters.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Information on myriad emergencies and disasters, with preparedness, response, and planning advice and resources for individuals, businesses, healthcare facilities, states, local communities, and the nation; along with legal information and more.
- Let's Get Ready
Web tools and resources on emergency assistance. Encourages individuals and organizations “to join the National Preparedness Month coalition, and pledge their support to help prepare their families, businesses, and communities for emergencies of all kinds.” A partnership with Citizen Corps and the Ad Council.
- Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) Program: PEDPrepared
PEDPrepared is a pediatric disaster clearinghouse of resources which targets health providers, emergency and community planners, and families. It compiles information from a variety of federal, state, and local government information sources and materials published by national health and disaster related organizations. Its primary purpose is to help communities achieve an optimal level of emergency readiness for children who are involved in an environmental, health, or man-made disaster.
- Health Resources in Children in Disasters and Emergencies
A collection of resources related to medical and public health issues of children in disasters and emergencies. The resources are national/international in scope and they target healh providers as well as emergency and community planners who work with or behalf of children. It was developed through a collaborative effort between the National Library of Medicine DIMRC, the Emergency Services for Children National Resource Center, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response Division of At-Risk Individuals, Behavioral Health and Community Resilience.
- Disaster Technical Assistance Center (DTAC)
"Supports SAMHSA's efforts to prepare States, Territories, Tribes and local entities to deliver effective mental health and substance abuse (behavioral health) response to disaster." Includes information and resources on disaster behavioral response planning, assistance, training, experts, tip sheets, publications, and much more.
- SAMHSA Behavioral Health Disaster Responses App
A free download app designed to provide behavioral health responders with the resources they need to provide support to disaster survivors. Resources are pre-downloaded to the user’s mobile phone to ensure access in the event of limited Internet connectivity in the field. Resources include tip sheets and the ability to search and map behavioral service providers in the impacted areas. Available on iTunes and Google Play.
- Disaster and Community Crisis Center (DCC)
- Communities Advancing Resilience Toolkit (CART) (2012) (PDF)
CART is a community intervention designed to enhance community reslience through assessment, group process, planning, and action. It stimulates communication, analysis, and action, and it contributes to community participation and collaboration, community self-awareness, crisitcal reflection, and skill development. CART encourages public engagement in problem-solving and the development and use of local assets to address community needs.