Early Learning Partners Join Forces to Aid Child Care Programs Impacted by Disaster

Living in Florida, we know that disaster can strike at any time. Hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, and wildfires have become increasingly common for our state, and the destruction caused by any or all of these disasters can severely impact a community.

On October 10, Category 4 Hurricane Michael ripped through the Florida panhandle, leaving behind horrific devastation. AccuWeather predicted Hurricane Michael’s total damage and economic impact will reach close to $30 billion, as entire neighborhoods were leveled, millions of people were left without power, many homes were razed, trees blocked major roads, and hospitals evacuated patients to safer facilities. Additionally, countless child care programs were destroyed or received significant damage.

Have you ever wondered what would happen if a child care center could not open for business due to a disaster? Parents wouldn’t be able to work, child care teachers and owners wouldn’t get paid, and children would be confused by the loss of their routines. Recovery is difficult when a majority of child care centers, family child care homes, and preschools that children rely on as safe havens suffer disaster-related damage and are unable to operate.

The Florida Early Learning Disaster Relief (FELDR) was created with these issues in mind. Our purpose is to assist child care centers, Head Start programs, and family child care homes that are in danger of closing, temporarily or permanently, due to a natural disaster, by meeting some of their most pressing needs on a short-term basis. Through a collaboration of state and national partners, FELDR addresses these most pressing needs to the state’s child care and early learning infrastructure. Small grants will be awarded to help bridge the financial gap not met through FEMA or insurance support for child care programs in need of repair so they can open their doors to children and families as soon as possible.

“Establishing routine and normalcy are so important for young children who suffer from trauma after disasters,” said Phyllis Kalifeh, President and CEO of the Children’s Forum. “FELDR was created to ensure that child care programs can remain open in times of disaster and so families can go about the business of restoring their homes and communities.”

The Children’s Forum is a proud partner of FELDR We encourage you to consider making a contribution to FELDR that will provide hope, help, and healing to child care programs as they restore, renew, and rebuild.

To learn more about FELDR, visit http://www.fldisasterrelief.org/.