Methods: A qualitative study of organizational support networks was conducted with a convenience sample of 27 executives located across Florida. Their perceptions were collected primarily through phone interviews, though five of the executives were not available by phone and thus participated through an online survey that contained the same interview questions. They represented a variety of different types of child-serving residential facilities that served a number of client groups (e.g., adolescents in the foster care and juvenile justice systems, adolescents in need of behavioral health services, and pregnant and parenting teens). Interview questions focused on their experiences before, during, and after the storm. Transcripts were coded to identify network partners and supports shared.
Results: Agencies represented by the respondents were classified into three categories: isolated entities that did not participate in a support network; entities that were supported by a network of either internal or external organizations/groups/actors; and entities that both supported and were supported by members of the network. Sources of support included churches, businesses, nonprofit agencies, governmental units, and community donors. Support was provided to the facilities in all three stages of the experience, included preparation, response, and recovery. Examples of support received include tree-trimming, high priority access to limited water and fuel, shelter during the storm, and funds for property repair. The facilities themselves provided support to others during the response and recovery phases. Recipients of facility support included relief workers, facility employees, community groups, and fellow facilities. These supports included shelter, meals, excess hurricane supplies, and manual labor for community clean-up.
Conclusions and Implications: From an academic standpoint, this study begins to fill an important gap regarding the organizational support networks in which child-serving residential facilities participate during disaster. Of particular interest is the fact that these facilities not only benefit from the network but also contribute to the well-being of network members. From a practical standpoint, these results have implications for residential facilities that could benefit from increasing their networks by adding the connections identified in this study. Further, funding entities, such as state child welfare and juvenile justice agencies, could use these results to facilitate the development of networks for the facilities they fund.