INTRODUCTION: Natural and man-made disasters have increased dramatically over the past 15 years. Children are the most vulnerable population in disasters and suffer acute and long-term physical and psychological damage. In 2005, there were 17 million children displaced from their homes as a result of humanitarian emergencies.

OBJECTIVE: The Children in Disasters Project of the Rainbow Center for Global Child Health aims to reduce the traumatic acute and long-term effects of disasters for children by providing training to health professionals and relief workers, both in the United States and around the world, on how to recognize and respond to the special needs of children in disasters.

RESULTS: Since 1996 the project has provided intensive, interactive, 5-day training programs entitled “Management of Complex Humanitarian Emergencies: Focus on Children and Families.” These were the first programs to emphasize that children need special attention in disasters. This course has been replicated with colleagues in 9 countries and has trained 980 people to help care for disaster-affected children. Course evaluations have been excellent, and trainees have done well in disaster work.

CONCLUSIONS: Because of ongoing humanitarian emergencies, there is a need to continue training relief workers about the special needs of children.

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