Emergency Planning and Preparedness for Foster Families


In times of crisis, children and young adults may not be able to fully understand what is occurring and need support and guidance to get to safety by their foster and/or relative caregiver. Planning and preparation in advance in the case of a child or young adult’s displacement from their foster caregiver/group or residential home during a disaster is essential in maintaining safety and well-being.

What is an Emergency or Natural Disaster?

 Emergency and Natural Disasters include Earthquakes, Flooding, Wildfires, Landslides, Thunderstorms, Winter Storms, Hurricanes, Tsunamis, Tornados, and human-caused events (such as terrorism or a pandemic) that negatively impact a community.

What should my certifier know in case of an Emergency or Natural Disaster?

Foster parents and relative care providers should provide their certifier with contact information of an emergency contact at the time of initial certification and each renewal. Be specific and include telephone numbers (landlines and cell phone numbers), names, and addresses. If the emergency contact changes, the foster parent should provide updated contact information within 24 hours of the change.

Who do I need to contact in the event of an Emergency or Natural Disaster?

In the event of a disaster, foster parents and relative caregivers may contact Oregon 211 by:

  • CALL 211 or 1-866-698-6155
  • TEXT keyword "foster" to 898211 (TXT211)
  • EMAIL foster@211info.org
  • HOURS: 24/7

The local Child Welfare office needs to locate all children under state care and supervision. Be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Foster child/young adult’s name;
  • County or office of case management;
  • Foster child’s whereabouts and situation; and
  • The telephone numbers and addresses where the child/family can be reached.

What if I need to evacuate with the foster child/young adult?

Foster parents and relative caregivers should evacuate to shelters that have been established by the county emergency manager in your area or to a location safely out of the disaster. After a family and the foster children/young adults have reached their destination, the foster parent and/or relative caregiver is to call Oregon 211 by dialing within 24 hours.

When evacuating, please take the following:

  • Each child/young adult’s medical card;
  • Each child/young adult’s prescribed medications and related supplies; and
  • Contact information for child/young adult’s physician and/or other medical providers
  • If normal communication is inaccessible, the Red Cross can provide communication assistance to foster parents and relative caregivers upon request. Red Cross shelters that are opened during disasters can be located through the following web link: http://www.redcross.org/get-help/disaster-relief-and-recovery/find-an-open-shelter

What can I do to prepare at home now?

There are several web-based sources, below, to assist in disaster preparedness, tailored to specific disaster preparedness. Some basic items to have prepared in case of sheltering at home should include for a minimum of two week supply:

  • Adequate Water- This includes at least one gallon of safe water for each individual per day. More may be required if there are unique needs for sanitation, medical equipment, etc.
  • Adequate Food- If any of the food is canned, a can opener is available, there is a plan to cook and prepare foods (including modified textures) assuming utilities are not available, and that food should be evaluated to determine if it is spoiled, molded, or otherwise damaged or contaminated. 
  • Medical Supplies- Each individual has at least a two week supply of essential medications, medical supplies, and equipment. 

Web-based resources can help families prepare for a major emergency or disaster:

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):


Oregon Office of Emergency Management:


Red Cross:


Department of Homeland Security:



Oregon Health Authority:


211 Oregon: http://211info.org/

Computer-Based Training on iLearn:

https://ilearn.oregon.gov/Default.aspx (Emergency Preparedness Training for Foster Parents and Relative Care Providers)

Stay safe during wildfires, smoke, and weather events

We're aware that many of you are affected by the current wildfires, smoke, evacuations, and windy weather emergencies. If you're in an area affected by smoke and ash from wildfires, protect your health when smoke levels are high:

  • Stay inside if possible. Keep windows and doors closed.
  • Avoid strenuous outdoor activity.
  • Be aware of smoke in your area and avoid places with the highest levels.
  • Use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. These can be portable filters or can be installed in indoor heating, ventilation, cooling, and air purification systems.
  • If you have heart or lung disease or asthma, follow your health care provider’s advice.
  • If you evacuate your home, remember to take face coverings and hand sanitizer with you to help protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

See this video from our Public Health Division for more information.