When people are forced to leave their homes by floods or other disasters, there are risks that family members may become separated from each other. Even during a disaster, all children have the right to a family and families have the right to care for their children. Services should be provided in a way that helps families stay together, rather than separating children from their parents.
What can you do?
- If possible, try to keep your family together at all times.
- If you have to be apart, for example to work, try not to be separated from your children for long periods of time.
- Ensure your children know the names of all their family members and where you are living currently.
- If you find a child who seems to be lost, take the child around nearby groups of people to see if parents or carers are there. Do not move a child until you are sure that he or she has genuinely been lost or abandoned.
- Ask the child when and where they last saw their family members.
- If you are aware of any children without parents, you should notify your local child protection worker, District Social Welfare Office, police or call the Child Helpline on 116 (free of charge). Tell them where the child or children are as soon as possible. Report anything you feel may be suspicious or dangerous.
- If you are going to a food or supplies distribution site, either keep your children close by you at all times or leave them in the care of a trusted relative or adult somewhere you can rejoin them later.
- If your children do go with you to a distribution site, arrange in advance somewhere you can meet if you become separated. Ensure this is somewhere your child knows and will feel comfortable.
- If you are finding it difficult to support your children after the floods, seek support from members of your community, your local child protection worker, the District Social Welfare Office or Child Helpline on 116 (free of charge)to explain your situation and seek advice.
What to tell your children
- Always know where your family is, if you are not together.
- If you go to school or to play, always tell your family where you are going and when you will be back.
- If you are forced to flee, stay with your family. Hold onto your parent’s, relative’s or friend’s hands, or to their clothes. If you get tired, ask your family to stop for a little while.
- If you lose your family, look for other parents and children you know. Tell them that you have lost your family. If you do not see anyone you know, look for someone you can trust, such as a police officer or child protection worker.