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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Hurricane Response – Resources for Children with Special Health Care Needs

In the wake of the 2017 Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, ensuring children and their families remain connected to the services and support they rely on is important to recovering communities. This is especially true for children with special health care needs (CSHCN).

CSHCN are a population that may need additional attention and support during an emergency. CSHCN have or are at increased risk for having chronic physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional conditions. They require health and related services of a type or amount beyond that typically required by children.

This collection of resources provides response and recovery information for use by families, organizations, and clinicians providing care to CSHCN in the affected areas.  These resources complement guidance provided by state and/or local authorities, which may have more information about location specific activities and services. For more information, contact state maternal and child health or CSHCN programs.

General Resources

  • Health Resources on Children in Disaster and Emergencies: A compendium of resources from the Disaster Information Management Research Center that provides information about medical and public health issues that children in disasters and emergencies may experience.
  • Resources for Hurricane Season 2017Exit Icon: Information from the Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) Innovation and Improvement Center, including resources for professionals and families, resources specific to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and stories from EMSC grantees.
  • Ready Wrigley: CDC activity books targeted for children that address preparedness activities, including hurricane preparedness and storm and flood recovery.
  • Resources for People with Disabilities, Access & Functional Needs: Public service announcements, images, and graphics from CDC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) available in multiple languages, including American Sign Language, that cover topics on mold, flood waters, shelters and evacuations, water safety after a disaster, returning home safely, and debunking myths about plague and tetanus.
  • Self-Assessment Tool for Early Childhood Programs Serving Families Experiencing Homelessness: A guide from Administration for Children and Families (ACF) that assists childcare, Head Start and Early Head Start, and public pre-k providers in welcoming and supporting families and children experiencing homelessness into these programs.
  • Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery (EPRR) Discussion Brief Series: A collection of briefs from Child Care State Capacity Building Center (SCBC) that offers options for consideration in the development of state and territory childcare disaster plans for Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) grantees and their partners.
  • Keeping Children Safe after Hurricane Harvey: A factsheet from FEMA that includes provider recommendations for parents and guardians to keep their children safe and at ease through the wait and cleanup associated with hurricanes. The fact sheet is available in eight languages.

CSHCN Specific Resources

  • Explore the Title V Federal-State Partnership: A webpage from Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) that provides information about Title V Federal-State partnerships that help states address the health services needs of mothers, infants, and children, including children with special health care needs and their families.
  • Emergency Information Form for Children with Special Health Needs Exit Icon: An important document from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) that can help ensure that children with special health needs receive prompt and appropriate care when neither their parent nor regular healthcare provider is available.

Trauma-Informed Care and Mental Health Support

  • The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) provides support and resources to children who experienced traumatic events in general, but there are specific resources for children impacted by natural disasters.
  • Children’s Behavioral Health Resources Exit Icon: A collection of information about most types of disasters, including hurricanes and floods.
  • Trinka and Sam Children's Booklet (English) Exit Icon/Trinka y Juan en un día de mucho viento y lluvia (Spanish)(Spanish) Exit Icon: A story that helps young children and their families talk about feelings and worries they may have after experiencing a hurricane. A parent guide is included that suggests ways that parents can use the story with their children.
  • PFA Mobile Exit Icon: A mobile app that lets responders review PFA guidelines and assess their readiness to deliver PFA in the field.
  • Skills for Psychological Recovery Exit Icon (SPR): An online course for community and mental health providers who work with affected communities long-term.
  • SAMHSA Behavioral Health Disaster Response Exit Icon: A mobile app for users to access important disaster-related behavioral health resources.
  • Disaster Distress Helpline: A toll-free, multilingual, and confidential hotline that provides immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. Call – 800-895-5990 or text TalkWithUs or 66746. English speakers in US Territories text TalkWithUs to 1-212-461-4635.
  • Promoting Adjustment and Helping Children Cope Exit Icon: A list of resources that prepares adults to help children develop effective coping strategies after a disaster or crisis.
  • Psychological First Aid (PFA) for Schools Exit Icon: An evidence-based approach for assisting children, adolescents, adults, and families in the aftermath of a school crisis, disaster, or terrorism event, with sections (pages 13 – 16) specifically tailored to children with special health care needs.

Family Support & Health Financing

CSHCN Specific Resources

  • Family-to-Family Health Information Centers Exit Icon (F2F HICs): Family-staffed organizations that assist families of children and youth with special health care needs and the professionals who serve them. F2F HICs provide support, information, resources, and training around health issues, and are a useful resource for those affected by the recent hurricanes.
  • CMS Guidance Regarding Facility Exceptions and Administrative Actions: A webpage that provides information on waivers to access, especially for facilities in the areas affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Resources for Clinical Providers

HHS/ASPR’s Division of At-Risk Individuals, Behavioral Health, and Community Resilience (ABC) coordinated with the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau through a subgroup of the Children’s HHS Interagency Leadership on Disasters (CHILD) workgroup to develop this list of resources. The subgroup assessed gaps and identified opportunities to leverage HHS programs to address the health care needs and offer resources for CSHCN.

  • This page last reviewed: September 13, 2022