Emergency Readiness: Families

Helping Families Challenged by Disability Build Resilience to Disasters

With the support of the Deborah Munroe Noonan Memorial Research Fund, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee (Noonan Fund), Susan Wolf-Fordham, Charles Hamad and Carol Curtin developed a demonstration training curriculum for parents of children with disabilities or special health care needs (ages 0-21), designed to increase their emergency preparedness knowledge, skills and behaviors, enabling successful planning for children and family emergency needs.

Curriculum Development

The curriculum, developed in collaboration with an advisory committee of parents of children with disabilities/special health care needs and emergency response professionals, and with review by the MA Department of Public Health, addressed needs raised by all groups and highlighted in the literature

Parent Workshop

Implemented as an in-person interactive parent/guardian training workshop, the training provided an opportunity for participants to review a Toolkit with resource information, tip sheets and useful planning tools. A Family Emergency Plan Template helped participants develop and personalize emergency plans with a focus on sharing "need to know" information about their child's unique needs.

Thirty-nine parents from 23 Massachusetts cities and towns participated in the training. Collaborators in holding the workshops included the Cotting School, Lexington; Massachusetts Family Ties, Boston; Jewish Family & Children's Service, Waltham; and the Somerville and Brookline public health departments.

Project Evaluation

Training outcomes were positive, with significant increases in parent participant knowledge, self-confidence, response capability, and motivation to implement further preparedness actions. Families were highly satisfied and the majority of participants completed or nearly completed a family emergency plan. An additional session was broadcast on a local cable television station.

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