CDC and Children In Disasters
CDC’s Children’s Preparedness Unit (CPU)
One in four people in the United States is less than 18 years old. Children have special vulnerabilities and needs during an emergency. CDC’s Children’s Preparedness Unit (CPU), housed in the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, champions the needs of children before, during, and after emergencies.
Established in 2011, CPU serves as the agency’s go-to source for children’s needs in public health emergencies. The team includes pediatricians, behavioral scientists, child psychologists, epidemiologists, biostatisticians, and a dedicated health communications team focused on pediatric preparedness.
The impact on children’s development may not be just one more aspect to consider as part of an emergency–it may be the emergency. The 2015 Zika virus epidemic and the 2016 widespread water contamination in Flint, Michigan, drew national attention because of the direct impact on babies and children. To ensure the healthy development of all children, CPU is dedicated to ensuring children’s needs are included at every level of emergency planning.
CPU takes a collaborative approach to achieving its mission . The unit has a strong track record of working with external groups and internal CDC partners in environmental health, infectious diseases, injury prevention, school health, and global health. CPU works to ensure that children’s needs are front and center during an emergency or other public health crises.
“We must do more to meet children’s needs in an emergency – from evaluation, cleanup of dangerous or toxic substances and sheltering, to ensuring children get the medicines and medical devices they need. All too often, the needs of the youngest and most vulnerable in our population are overlooked in emergency exercises and planning.” – Eric Dziuban, MD, Team Lead, Children’s Preparedness Unit
Key External Partners
- American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
- U.S. Department of Education (ED)
- Administration for Children & Families (ACF)
- Childcare Aware of America (CCAA)
- Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC)
- Save the Children (STC)
- Children’s Health and Human Services (HHS) Interagency Leadership on Disasters Working Group and Subcommittee on Children with Special Healthcare Needs
- National Advisory Committee on Children and Disasters
- Pediatric and Obstetric Integrated Program Team
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR)
- Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
- World Health Organization
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
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