Thousands of Louisiana children remain displaced, distressed and unable to return to school, leaving them and their futures extremely vulnerable, Save the Children said Monday.
“President Obama’s visit to the flood zone is a moment for the media and the whole nation to grasp how widespread the damage here truly is.We hope the attention also spotlights the less-visible, but extremely concerning challenges that children here face,” said Sarita Fritzler, Save the Children emergency team leader in Baton Rouge, ahead of Obama's visit.
With more than 60,000 households affected and more than 30,000 rescued, thousands of children face risks of serious emotional and developmental consequences in lieu of proper support. Close to 1,000of the most vulnerable children remain in temporary shelters and thousands more could be out of school or child-care for weeks or even months, Save the Children warned.
“Families here feel forgotten,” Fritzler added.“They’re in desperate need of a turning point that will drive more resources to their aid.If not, prospects for children – especially those from families with the fewest resources – could really be quite dire.”
Four years after Hurricane Katrina, one large-scale study of families displaced by the storm showed that 37 percent of children were suffering from serious emotional consequences.Louisiana is one of the poorest states in the nation and 28 percent of children live in poverty there.
“Our country can and must do better for Louisiana’s most vulnerable children this time around,” Fritzler said.
Save the Children is working to meet the urgent needs of displaced children and families and has created safe spaces in emergency shelters where children can play and begin to work through a variety of distressing experiences with caring experts. The organization is also working to fill recovery gaps by assessing the extent to which hundreds of area child care centers have been damaged and will need support to reopen.
“The sooner we can get children back in supportive learning environments, the sooner they can recover, build resiliency and continue their healthy development,” Fritzler said.
Save the Children has responded to children’s needs in emergencies around the world for nearly a century.Since mounting a major response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Save the Children has served more than 1 million U.S. children affected by disaster.
To support Save the Children’s Gulf Coast Floods Children’s Relief Fund, please donate here: www.Savethechildren.org/gulf-floods.