Governor Wolf Announces Resource Guide to Help Evacuees from Puerto Rico and Other Devastated Areas
December 18, 2017
Harrisburg, PA – With thousands of people fleeing the aftermath of natural disasters earlier this year in the southeastern U.S. and Puerto Rico, Governor Tom Wolf today announced the release of a new resource guide from the departments of Education, Health and Human Services to help school districts and communities welcome and assist those who have been displaced.
“After hurricanes devastated portions of the southeastern U.S. and Puerto Rico, communities across Pennsylvania have been opening their arms to help those who have lost everything,” said Governor Wolf. “That spirit of compassion is part of the fabric of our commonwealth and this new resource guide gives schools and local organizations the information they need to help the evacuees to get back on their feet.”
Nearly three months after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, electricity is still out in some areas and thousands of businesses are closed, forcing tens of thousands of people to leave the U.S. territory, including thousands of students sheltering in Pennsylvania.
“Many of the people fleeing Puerto Rico and other devastated areas are children who have lost everything,” said Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera. “Those children need and deserve a good education and schools across the state are up to the challenge. This guide provides a one-stop-shop of information about resources to help those school districts as well as the students and their families.”
The Department of Education created the School Resource Guide for Disaster Evacuees in collaboration with the departments of Human Services and Health. The guide provides information for students from pre-kindergarten to postsecondary education on a wide range of topics from the Homeless Education Assistance and Pre-K Counts programs to nutrient, health care and the state university system.
“This guide is a perfect example of the Wolf administration coming together to help individuals in need – a true testament to a government that works,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “As more displaced individuals enter the commonwealth, we must ensure that they have access to high-quality services and supports during this stressful transition.”
“Pennsylvania stands ready to help families of evacuees,” Acting Health Secretary and Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine said, “Pennsylvania has resources through our Women, Infants and Children (WIC) programs, as well as through our State Health Centers to make sure evacuees stay healthy.”
The School Resource Guide for Disaster Evacuees is available online and has distributed to local education agencies across the commonwealth. The guide is available in both English and Spanish, and includes pamphlets that may be distributed to students and their parents.
A second toolkit, which will include information from additional state agencies and will support Pennsylvanians outside of the school system, is forthcoming. That toolkit will include information on enrolling children in school, finding disaster assistance, feeding programs, or health information, as well as other community and state supports.