New Committee to Advise HHS on Needs of Children in Disasters

HHS seeks qualified individuals from the scientific, public health, and medical fields

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

The needs of children in disasters will be the focus of an advisory committee of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The National Advisory Committee on Children and Disasters will provide expert advice and consultation to the HHS Secretary on comprehensive planning and policies to meet the needs of children before, during, and after a disaster or other public health emergency. The department is seeking nominations for committee members from the scientific, public health, and medical fields.

"More than one quarter of the U.S. population is younger than 20 years of age, and addressing their needs is integral to our planning process,” said Nicole Lurie, M.D., HHS’ assistant secretary for preparedness and response. “I look forward to working with the committee on this common goal and building on prior efforts to ensure our communities can meet the health needs of impacted children."

Ensuring the safety and well-being of children in the wake of disasters and public health emergencies is an HHS priority. In 2010, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) created the Children’s HHS Interagency Leadership on Disasters (CHILD) working group to identify and comprehensively integrate children’s disaster planning activities across all components of HHS.

Progress made by the CHILD working group includes increased interagency coordination and recommendations to improve lifesaving care for children in disasters, ways to mitigate the behavioral and psychological needs of children in disasters, and medications and vaccines appropriate for use to protect children in an emergency. The working group has also recommended ways in which the nation could support child care and child welfare agencies in emergencies.

The National Advisory Committee on Children and Disasters was established under the authority of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013.

Nominations are being accepted from non-federal health care professionals and representatives from state, tribal, territorial, or local health care offices. Deadline for submission is February 14, 2014. For more information or to be considered for committee membership, visit

HHS is the principal federal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves. ASPR is an HHS leader in preparing the nation to respond to and recover from adverse health effects of emergencies, supporting communities’ ability to withstand adversity, strengthening health and response systems, and enhancing national health security.