Youth Preparedness: A National Framework
Emergencies and disasters can happen at any time and often without any warning. Considering that children comprise approximately 25 percent of our population, disaster planning, response, and recovery efforts must take into account the unique needs that children have. Children also bring many unique strengths to emergency preparedness:
· Children are positive influencers. Educators and social researchers agree that children can effectively bring the message of preparedness home to their families.
· Children can become leaders. By participating in youth preparedness programs, children are empowered to become leaders at home and in their schools and communities.
· Children who are prepared are more confident during emergencies and disasters. Social science research and anecdotal evidence support the idea that children who have learned about emergency preparedness experience less anxiety during an actual emergency or disaster.
To find out about FEMA’s exciting work, as well as that of our partners, please subscribe to the Children & Disasters Newsletter.
Start A Program
Children play an important role in disaster preparedness and have unique potential to help their communities be safer, stronger, and more resilient before, during, and after a disaster. Youth preparedness programs across the country provide youth with the knowledge and skills they need to protect themselves if an emergency occurs and empower them to bring home the message of preparedness and safety.
Anyone can start a youth preparedness program. Establishing one is an involved effort, but there are many resources available to help new and potential program leaders through the process. The seven steps listed below offer a brief overview of the work involved to implement a successful youth preparedness program.
The FEMA Youth Preparedness: Implementing a Community-Based Program Guide (Implementation Guide), Youth Preparedness: Implementing A Community Based Program (Implementation Guide) will walk you through the steps in more detail, and the Youth Preparedness Implementation Checklist will help you ensure that you’ve not missed any steps.
Step 1: Getting Started
To ensure a successful youth preparedness program, a program leader must begin by assessing the needs of the community, identifying the goals of the program, and securing the necessary financing and resources to facilitate a smooth launch. The first step involves deciding what to include in the program. For example, will it include information and training on a particular type of disaster, or general information about family preparedness and/or emergency response? Once you have identified your community’s needs, you will be able to establish a focus for your youth program.
Step 2: Engaging Partners
Youth preparedness requires collaboration. The second step in implementing a youth preparedness program is to identify and secure partners, and to define the roles and responsibilities for each partner. Refer to the Partnership Checklist in the Implementation Guide for a starting point in whom to consider.
Step 3: Identifying Your Curriculum
There are a variety of youth preparedness programs that exist already, each one designed to meet the needs of different communities and the different age groups of youth participants. The third step involves determining who your audience is, choosing what topics to focus on, and identifying a curriculum that meets the demands of those audience(s) and topic(s). The FEMA Youth Preparedness Catalogue: Disaster Preparedness Education Programs and Resources lists a number of curricula that may work for you. Also, printed program materials are available for the STEP and Teen CERT programs through the FEMA Warehouse.
Step 4: Implementing Your Program
Once your curriculum is in place and your instructors and other staff have been trained, it’s time to put your program into action. The fourth step includes determining scheduling, locations, staffing, and other logistics as you launch your program. The FEMA Youth Preparedness Implementation Workbook includes various activities to help you think through the effectiveness of your implementation process.
Step 5: Promoting Your Program
Once your program is implemented, raising program awareness within your community is an important next step. This involves mapping out your promotional plan, securing the appropriate budget and staffing for each promotional effort, and executing these initiatives.
Step 6: Evaluating Your Program
Evaluating your program helps to drive program improvements and, ultimately, leads to greater success. There are many evaluative methods you can and should employ. The sixth step involves creating your evaluation plan and managing logistical concerns as you conduct your evaluation.
Step 7: Sustaining Your Program
As program leader you should create a formal sustainability plan that lays out clear goals and objectives to ensure the long-term success of your program. The final step involves developing this plan. Planning includes steps for working with community partners to generate greater program exposure, establishing a working group, exploring various funding sources, and updating your curriculum.
Tools for Youth Preparedness Programs
FEMA provides a host of additional resources to help you develop your youth preparedness program. The information below is an excellent place to begin. For further assistance or help with specific questions, we encourage you to email us at FEMA-Youth-Preparedness@fema.dhs.gov.
There are many successful youth preparedness programs already in operation throughout the country. Each of these programs uses a curriculum that meets the specific needs of its youth members. Use this guide as you work to identify which curriculum best suits the needs of your youth preparedness program, taking into consideration factors like the focus of your program and the ages of the youth it will serve. In many cases, you may want to sample from multiple programs to best fit your goals.
The FEMA Youth Preparedness: Implementing a Community–Based Program Guide (Implementation Guide) walks you through the seven steps involved in implementing a youth preparedness program. This is one of the most important documents for potential program managers as it will help you get a solid and realistic understanding of the process of program creation.
A successful youth preparedness program requires adequate funding to secure tools, materials, staffing, and other needed resources. A portion of your funding may come from in-kind donations, while another portion may come from fundraising or various other efforts. Refer to this guide to learn more about strategies for securing funding for your program needs.
There are risks and liabilities to consider when putting together a youth preparedness program, just as there would be with any other program or activity. Your program should acknowledge and confront liability issues, and openly address the realities of the situation. This guide will help you identify potential risks your program may face, as well as risk mitigation techniques you may want to consider.
This one-page summary offers a quick glance at some of the most basic strategies to manage the key risks that a youth preparedness program might face. Use this checklist as a stand-alone tool, or as a brief introduction to the more in-depth Youth Preparedness Guide to Risk Management mentioned above.
Have you secured parental permission slips for each of your youth program participants? Have you selected the curriculum that best meets the needs of your community and your targeted age group? After thorough review of the Implementation Guide, program managers can use this checklist to verify that they have properly completed each of the seven implementation steps.
As the leader of a new or existing program, it is important to assess or revisit the accuracy of your implementation steps. This workbook can be used in conjunction with the Implementation Guide, or as a supplement to the Implementation Checklist, to help you brainstorm, determine next steps, and execute each of the seven implementation steps.
Youth Preparedness Materials
For existing programs, FEMA provides helpful resources like the documents below that help maintain programs and provide supporting activities. For further assistance or help with specific questions, we encourage you to email us at FEMA-Youth-Preparedness@fema.dhs.gov.
By aggregating existing research related to emergency preparedness education for youth, this guide provides evaluative insight into existing youth education interventions for emergency preparedness. These findings can then be used to develop recommendations on how to assess current programs and strengthen the offerings available to youth preparedness programs.
The STEP toolkit teaches 4th and 5th grade students what to do in emergency situations and empowers them to implement life-saving preparedness initiatives in their homes. Program materials are available to you at no cost. Please request them by emailing FEMA-R1-STEP@fema.dhs.gov.
Teen CERT training teaches adolescents with hands-on and realistic response skills, preparing teens for the unexpected in their community. Start a program that will empower teenagers with newly learned leadership skills, teaching them to safely respond to an emergency and assist victims without endangering themselves or others. Equip your Teen CERT members with skills that last a lifetime. Program materials are available to you at no cost. Please request them by contacting the FEMA Warehouse.
This guide will walk you through the steps required to launch and maintain a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training program targeted to teenagers. This guide is especially helpful for those facilitating Teen CERT classes.
The Community Preparedness Webinar Series provides up-to-date information on community preparedness topics and resources available to citizens, community organizations, and Citizen Corps Councils. These webinars are free to the public and feature new community preparedness topics on a regular basis. An entire section of the webinar library is dedicated to youth preparedness resources such as the Available Resources to Prepare Schools.
Pledge to join the preparedness movement by registering for the National Preparedness Community. Connect and collaborate with other community members, and learn and share best practices with others from around the country who are also interested in youth preparedness.
This coloring book is designed for adults and children to work together to learn about fire, earthquakes, floods, tornados, and other disasters, as well as how to protect themselves—all while having fun coloring. For children under the age of five, this is an excellent resource that creates teachable moments as well as encourages children to play.
This activity book engages youth and helps facilitate family conversations about emergency preparedness. Elementary school children may find this resource useful. The activities include a crossword puzzle and a word search. There are even comic strips to enjoy. The booklet is a wonderful teaching tool for kids who may be too old for the simpler coloring book.
The mission of the technical assistance center at REMS is to support schools, school districts, and institutions of higher education in their efforts to implement emergency management plans.
This one-pager provides a brief overview of the importance of youth preparedness, as well as some of the most widely used tools and tips on launching and sustaining a successful youth preparedness program. Program leaders can refer to these highlighted points as they begin to promote and seek partners for their programs.
Partners in Youth Preparedness
Fostering a nationwide movement to support youth preparedness requires the dedication of an array of key partners. Read through the below list of youth preparedness partners, and visit their websites to explore additional youth preparedness tools, materials, and curricula.
The American Red Cross developed the Masters of Disaster curriculum to provide a series of ready-to-go lesson plans to help organizations educate youth about important disaster safety and preparedness topics.
The Department of Education promotes student achievement in many ways such as by gathering data on America's schools, preparing students for global competitiveness, and ensuring equal access to education. Beyond these academic goals, the department has also collaborated with FEMA to create the National Strategy for Youth Preparedness Education, showing their dedication to students' health, safety, and resilience. Their Office of Safe and Healthy Students provides a plethora of emergency planning resources.
Save the Children is helping children every day, in times of crisis, for our future. Its Get Ready Get Safe initiative is designed to help US communities prepare to protect and care for the most vulnerable among us in times of crisis – our children. Save the Children helps generate child-focused emergency plans, provides emergency training and ensures emergency resources are in place before crisis strikes.
Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools comes from the Department of Education’s Office of Safety and Healthy Students’ Center for School Preparedness and provides support, resources, and training to facilitate school emergency management efforts.
The Girl Scouts developed the Emergency Preparedness Patch Program, in partnership with FEMA’s Citizen Corps, to teach Girls Scouts to identify risks and prepare themselves and their families for potential emergencies or disasters. The program also teaches about the various coping techniques to adopt after an emergency or disaster, and it connects participants with local community service agencies to promote the message of preparedness.
Ready Kids is a youth-focused website, created by FEMA, that offers games and learning activities on emergency preparedness for kids of all ages. The website also offer tips and activities for parents and educators on engaging their youth on emergency preparedness.
The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) offers a wealth of educational resources intended to empower communities with knowledge on how to safeguard homes and families from natural and man-made emergencies or disasters. Additionally, their StormStruck: Tale of Two Homes interactive weather experience, viewable at Epcot at Walt Disney World, offers visitors of all ages the opportunity to play disaster safety games. The aligned StormStruck: Tale of Two Homes Scholarship Program provides scholarships for students seeking academic degrees in subjects related to disaster mitigation.
ShakeOut was created by FEMA to promote earthquake safety and encourage people to conduct earthquake-training drills in their homes, offices, or schools.
Download the Youth Preparedness Catalogue: Disaster Preparedness Education Programs and Resources for a compete list of registered youth preparedness programs nationwide.
A National Movement
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Red Cross, and the Department of Education are proud to announce the publication of the National Strategy for Youth Preparedness Education: Empowering, Educating and Building Resilience. This document outlines a vision for a nation of prepared youth and provides nine priority steps that partners at the local, state, and national levels can take to help make that vision a reality.
History & Mission
Created through partnership between FEMA, the Red Cross, and the U.S. Department of Education, the National Strategy aims to engage government and non-government organizations in order to provide comprehensive disaster education to children throughout the nation. Prepared youth can contribute to family and community preparedness and, ultimately, national resilience. The Strategy is comprised of nine priority steps that partners can take to encourage youth preparedness.
Because youth comprise approximately 25% of the US population, FEMA believes that promoting youth preparedness education today is one of the most effective ways to build more resilient communities tomorrow. Affirming the National Strategy offers the opportunity for you to more publicly associate your organization with youth preparedness. In doing so, your program can join a growing network of the nation’s most prominent organizations dedicated to serving and strengthening their communities.
The challenge we all share is to engage and empower youth and their families in becoming current and future generations of prepared citizens. The National Strategy is the critical next step in meeting that challenge.
Join the Movement
To learn more about the National Strategy or to discuss ways that you can get involved, please email FEMA-Youth-Preparedness@fema.dhs.gov. Please also join the National Preparedness Community, especially the Educators, Parents, and Youth Community of Practice, to participate in the conversation on youth preparedness and to learn about the various youth preparedness initiatives taking place across the country.
To find out about FEMA’s exciting work on youth preparedness, as well as that of our partners, please subscribe to the Children & Disasters Newsletter.