Child Welfare Services Disaster Planning and Response
The Child Welfare Services Disaster Planning and Response Unit (DPRU) was created in 2021 to provide additional support to Child Welfare and Probation agencies across the state due to an increase in disasters in California. The DPRU is in the Children's Services Quality Management Branch (CSQMB) working in conjunction with California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Mass Care and Shelter (MCS) Plan in large‐scale, multi‐county, interregional emergencies and disasters. The basic MCS Plan and the CSQMB will provide the structure, policies, procedures, and forms for CDSS Disaster Operation Center (DOC) activation.
The DPRU collaborates with the 58 counties to establish an effective process for creating, activating, and operating an a emergency and disaster preparedness plan as it relates to Child Welfare Services (CWS) children, Probation children, non-minor dependents, including non-minor dependents residing in foster care, out-of-county placements, children placed in or out of California through the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC), and out-of-state non-minor dependents under the care or supervision of the state that have been adversely affected by a disaster. Since many of these children reside in multiple jurisdictional areas, which are supervised by local child welfare agencies and CDSS, specific planning for this population is necessary.
In addition to providing support to Child Welfare and Probation agencies across the state in their development of county specific disaster plans, the DPRU aims to provide relevant resources and helpful support to those agencies, the youth and families impacted by a disaster at the time of a disaster, and track useful data regarding the impacts disasters have on Child Welfare and Probation operations and use data to inform opportunities for improved disaster preparedness and for securing available disaster funding.
The DPRU aligns itself with the following four emergency management phases:
- Preparedness Phase (including increased readiness):
The preparedness phase involves activities taken in advance of an emergency and include mitigation, emergency/disaster planning, training, exercises, and public education. These activities develop operational capabilities and effective response to a disaster.
- Response Phase (including Pre-emergency, Emergency Response, and Sustained Emergency):
When a large-scale disaster is inevitable, actions are precautionary and emphasize protection of life. Activities during this phase include communicating and coordinating services and information with local government agencies and child welfare personnel in areas adversely affected by a disaster.
- Recovery Phase:
During the recovery phase, procedures for the DPRU include reviewing and updating the county Child Welfare Disaster Response Plans.
- Mitigation Phase:
Mitigation efforts occur both before and following disaster events and include eliminating or reducing the impact of hazards which exist with the State and are a threat to life and property. Mitigating these hazards, both before and after a disaster is particularly important when evaluating the impact on dependent and probationary children under the care or supervision of the State.
Resources and Information
Below are tools and resources that can be used to prepare for disasters:
- Resources for Counties Experiencing Disasters
- Additional Information/Best Practices
On August 31, 2021, the White House declared September 2021 as National Preparedness Month (NPM) and encouraged "all Americans to recognize the importance of preparedness and work together to enhance our resilience and readiness." The 2021 theme is “Prepare to Protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love.” Each week in September, the Ready Campaign will focus on a different aspect of preparedness for individuals, families and communities. To learn more about each week’s event, please see the National Preparedness Month website.