Children in Disaster Situations



Children comprise about 25 percent of our population and have unique needs during a disaster that require specific recognition and coordination on the part of federal, state, Tribal and local governments and their non-governmental disaster-relief partners.  The rise in major disaster declarations over the past two decades, and more recent disasters have highlighted the need to improve the gaps in preparedness, response and recovery policies that should specifically address the needs of children.  

For these reasons, the National Commission on Children and Disasters was authorized under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008, signed into law by President Bush on December 26, 2007 (P.L. 110-161).

The purpose of the Commission is to: (1) conduct a comprehensive study that examines and assesses children’s needs as they relate to preparation for, response to, and recovery from all hazards, including major disasters and emergencies; (2) identify, review, and evaluate existing laws, regulations, policies, and programs relevant to such needs; (3) identify, review, and evaluate the lessons learned from past disasters relative to addressing such needs; and (4) report to the President and Congress on its findings and recommendations to address such needs, including regarding the need for a national resource center on children and disasters, coordination of resources and services, administrative actions, policies, regulations, and legislative changes.

The Commission held its first public meeting October 14, 2008.  Public meetings are held on a quarterly basis. An interim report was delivered to President Obama and Congress in October 2009.  The Commission delivered a second report to the President and Congress on October 6, 2010.

Areas of Interest

The Commission is required to study a broad range of domestic policy areas related to the needs of children affected by disasters, including: 2 boys after hurricane Katrina

  • Trauma, physical and mental health
  • Child welfare
  • Child care
  • Housing (sheltering, intermediate, long-term)
  • Evacuation and Transportation
  • Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Juvenile Justice
  • State and Local Emergency Management

Commission Members

Mark K. Shriver, Commission Chairperson, Vice President and Managing Director for U.S. Programs, Save the Children
Dr. Michael Anderson, Commission Vice-Chairperson, Interim Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, University Hospitals
Ernie Allen, President & CEO, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Merry Carlson, Preparedness Chief, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, State of Alaska
Honorable Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, Nevada General Assembly, 2nd Judicial District Court
Bruce Lockwood, Public Health Emergency Response Coordinator, Bristol-Burlington (CT) Health District
Graydon "Gregg" Lord, Senior Policy Analyst and Associate Director, Homeland Security Policy Institute, George Washington University
Dr. Irwin Redlener, President & Co-founder, The Children’s Health Fund & Director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness and Professor of Clinical Population and Family Health, Columbia University
Dr. David Schonfeld, Thelma and Jack Rubinstein Professor of Pediatrics, Director of the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, and Director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
Lawrence “Larry” Tan, Chief of Emergency Medical Services, New Castle County (DE) Department of Public Safety


1) Education and Juvenile Justice Subcommittee – Honorable Sheila Leslie, Chair
2) Pediatric Medical Care Subcommittee – Dr. Michael Anderson, Chair
3) Human Services Recovery Subcommittee – Dr. Irwin Redlener, Chair
4) Evacuation, Transportation and Housing Subcommittee – Bruce Lockwood, Chair

For more information about the Commission, please contact Pamela Cater-Birken at / (202) 401-5124 or Yasmine Pezeshkpour at / (202) 205-9547.

NCCD Statute
NCCD Commissioners
NCCD Staff
NCCD Charter (164 KB)

©2009 National Commission on Children and Disasters. All Rights Reserved.

Address: 1250 Maryland Avenue, SW - 8th Floor East - Washington, DC 20447

E-mail: Office No: 202-205-9560 Fax: 202-205-9565

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