Key Policy Letters from the Education Secretary or Deputy Secretary
November 6, 2012
Archived Information

November 6, 2012

Letter sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Governor Chris Christie, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, and Governor Dan Malloy

Dear Governor:

As the nation tracked Hurricane Sandy's destructive course along the eastern seaboard, President Obama directed federal, state, and city agencies to work together to remove barriers and expedite the work necessary to recover from this storm. 

As the storm approached the coast, President Obama said, "My message to the governors, as well as to the mayors, is anything they need, we will be there. And we're going to cut through red tape."

In that spirit, we want to reach out to you jointly.  We know that access to early care and education services has been disrupted for many families in the communities hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy.  Because restoring access to child care, Head Start, and other early learning programs can provide stability for children as families reconstruct their lives and return to work, we stand ready to help you in any way we can as you seek creative ways to get children back into safe and nurturing early education programs.

We encourage communities to use available space wherever it can be found throughout the affected regions to support child care, Head Start, and other early learning providers in need of a safe haven for children.  We are providing separate guidance to Head Start grantees and State Child Care Administrators describing how federally funded early learning programs can use broader flexibility in their operations during this time when you are responding to the aftermath of the storm.  The guidance will explain how this flexibility can be used to move programs to temporary facilities safely but flexibly and without running afoul of federal requirements. 

We encourage state and local leaders, early care and education directors, community organizations, school district superintendents, and principals in affected communities to work together to use available space within elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, libraries, community colleges, churches, and civic clubs to relocate our youngest children to places of safety and security. 

If you need any assistance as you seek to relocate programs, please have your staff contact Linda Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Childhood Development at the Department of Health and Human Services, (202) 401-9200, or David Esquith, Director of the Office of Safe and Healthy Students at the Department of Education, (202) 245-7336.

We stand ready to help you in any way we can to ensure our youngest children have access to the safety and stability provided by early care and education programs.


Arne Duncan
Kathleen Sebelius
Secretary of Education
Secretary of Health & Human Services

Last Modified: 02/16/2017