Minimizing Liability for Displaced Children Post-Disaster
How can a local agency minimize their liability while caring for children displaced after a disaster? Possibly by shortening the timeframe the children are in their custody.
After a disaster or emergency, families can become separated from each other. This causes a serious issue when trying to protect children from potential neglect and abuse at the hands of one’s own agency. Though claims of abuse can end up unfounded, the mere threat of a lawsuit and the publicity that would follow it would be enough to scar any local government or public safety agency for generations. So how do you minimize the risk the agency is exposed to while trying to reunite families after a disaster? One of the easiest things to do is get the families reunited faster. Now, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCME) has developed a system to assist local agencies with doing just that.
Three systems available to state and local authorities:
1. The National Emergency Child Locator Center
The National Emergency Child Locator Center is activated during presidentially declared disasters. In the event of a natural disaster, the center will: (i) establish a toll-free hotline to receive reports, (ii) create a website to provide information about displaced children, (iii) deploy staff to gather information about displaced children, (iv) provide information to public about additional resources available, (v) partner with law enforcement agencies at various levels, and (vi) refer reports of displaced adults to the Attorney General’s designated authority.
Visit the Site here.
2. The National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System (NEFRLS)
The National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System was established to facilitate the reunification of families separated as a result of a presidentially-declared emergency or major disaster. NEFRLS is a web-based system enables authorities to provide a nationally accessible system that allows displaced adults to voluntarily register and share specific information on their post-disaster well-being or location with specified family members or friends. Registration is voluntary and can be done either online or via a toll-free phone number. No citizenship or immigration status questions are asked when registering.
Visit the site here.
3. The Unaccompanied Minors Registry
the Unaccompanied Minors Registry allows the public to report information related to children who have been separated form their parents as the result of disaster. This tool enables NCMEC to provide assistance to local law enforcement and assist in the reunification of displaced children with their parents or legal guardians. Reporting is done on the NCMEC’s secured (SSL) website and is encrypted.
Visit the site here.