(April 13, 2007) — Disaster Child Care volunteers continue to serve in New Orleans, La., as part of the FEMA Louisiana Welcome Home Center, established to help aid returning families in their road to recovery. As of April 9, 27 child care volunteers have interacted with 595 children since the opening of the project on Jan. 3.
Barbara Weaver, the previous Disaster Project Manager in New Orleans, included the following story in her report from the project: “One morning a mom brought her young boy to be with us. He was so excited to stay and play. When she returned, he didn’t want to leave. So she sat down and chatted with us for a while. She had been evacuated up ‘North’ and finally was coming ‘back home.’ When we gave her the photo of her child and her, with big tears coming down her cheeks she said, ‘I don’t have any pictures of my boy and me since the flood came. Thank you so much.’ She was thrilled to have the photo we gave her.”
Disaster Child Care also is providing support for children of returning military veterans, and to families of emergency responders who responded to the Nickel Mines Amish school shooting. On April 11, two volunteers staffed a child care center at the Soldiers and Sailors National Military Museum in Pittsburgh, Pa., providing support to the veterans’ young children during a “Returning Veterans Training Workshop” sponsored by Alleghany County.
Disaster Child Care also will care for children during a “Resiliency Event” at the Farm and Home Center in Lancaster, Pa., on May 30, sponsored by Emergency Medical Services and Critical Incident Stress Management of Lancaster County. The event will provide support to emergency responders who responded to the Nickel Mines shooting, and to their families. Mental health professionals think some of the children of the responders may have been affected by their parent’s response or reaction to the shootings. “They feel it is crucial to have trained and certified child care volunteers at this meeting to help the children deal with their feelings of fear and other emotions they may have experienced,” said coordinator Helen Stonesifer.
In other news from the program, eight experienced Disaster Child Care volunteers received specialized training that prepared them to work with grieving and traumatized children following an aviation incident or other mass casualty event. The DCC Critical Response Childcare Orientation and ARC Critical Response Team Training took place in Las Vegas, Nev., on March 26-30. Attending the event were John and Sue Huffaker from Iowa, Treva Markey from Pennsylvania, Dorothy Norsen from New York, Derrick Skinner from Nebraska, Kathleen Steffy from Pennsylvania, John Surr from Maryland, and Samantha Wilson from Rhode Island.