The information provided herein describes the four (4) programs that are administered by FEMA’s Community Services Section under the Individual Assistance Program. These programs are available to states, U.S. Territories and/or Federally Recognized Indian tribal governments that have received a presidential declaration of a major disaster that includes Individual Assistance. Through these programs, FEMA is able to deliver a variety of services to disaster survivors.
Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) implements the Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program (CCP) as a supplemental assistance program available to the United States and its territories. Section 416 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 1974 authorizes FEMA to fund mental health assistance and training activities in presidentially declared major disaster areas. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) – Emergency Mental Health and Traumatic Stress Services Branch (EMHTSSB) works with FEMA through an interagency agreement to provide technical assistance, consultation, and training for State and local mental health personnel, grant administration and program oversight.
The mission of the CCP is to assist individuals and communities in recovering from the effects of natural and human-caused disasters through the provision of community-based outreach and psycho-educational services. The CCP supports short-term interventions that involve the counseling goals of assisting disaster survivors in understanding their current situation and reactions, mitigating stress, assisting survivors in reviewing their disaster recovery options, promoting the use or development of coping strategies, providing emotional support, and encouraging linkages with other individuals and agencies who may help survivors in their recovery process (recover to their pre-disaster level of functioning).
Supplemental funding for crisis counseling is available to State Mental Health Authorities through two grant mechanisms: (1) the Immediate Services Program (ISP) which provides funds for up to 60 days of services immediately following a disaster declaration; and (2) the Regular Services Program (RSP) which provides funds for up to nine months following a disaster declaration. While SAMHSA provides technical assistance for an ISP, the monitoring responsibility remains with FEMA. FEMA has designated SAMHSA as the authority responsible for monitoring all RSP programs.
The CCP is guided by the following key principles. It is:
- Strengths Based—CCP services promote resilience, empowerment, and recovery.
- Anonymous—Crisis counselors do not classify, label, or diagnose people; no records or case files are kept.
- Outreach Oriented—Crisis counselors deliver services in the communities rather than wait for survivors to seek their assistance.
- Conducted in Nontraditional Settings— Crisis counselors make contact in homes and communities, not in clinical or office settings.
- Designed to Strengthen Existing Community Support Systems—The CCP supplements, but does not supplant or replace, existing community systems.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance
The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1974, as amended, authorizes the President to provide benefit assistance to individuals unemployed as a direct result of a major disaster. FEMA implements the program through an Interagency Agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program provides financial assistance to individuals whose employment or self-employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster and who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance benefits.
When a major disaster has been declared by the President, DUA is generally available to any unemployed worker or self-employed individual who lived, worked, or was scheduled to work in the disaster area at the time of the disaster; and due to the disaster:
- No longer has a job or a place to work; or
- Cannot reach the place of work; or
- Cannot work due to damage to the place of work; or
- Cannot work because of an injury caused by the disaster.
An individual who becomes the head of household and is seeking work because the former head of household died as a result of the disaster may also qualify for DUA benefits.
DUA benefits are payable to individuals (whose unemployment continues to be a result of the major disaster) only for weeks of unemployment in the Disaster Assistance Period (DAP). The DAP begins with the first day of the week following the date the major disaster began and continues for up to 26 weeks after the date the disaster was declared by the President.
The maximum weekly benefit amount payable is determined under the provisions of the state law for unemployment compensation in the state where the disaster occurred. However, the minimum weekly benefit amount payable is half (50%) of the average benefit amount in the state.
In the event of a disaster, the affected state will publish announcements about the availability of DUA. To file a claim, individuals who are unemployed as a direct result of the disaster should contact their State Unemployment Insurance agency.
Individuals who have moved or have been evacuated to another state should contact the affected state for claim filing instructions. Individuals can also contact the State Unemployment Insurance agency in the state where they are currently residing for claim filing assistance.
Disaster Legal Services
FEMA provides free legal assistance to disaster survivors through an agreement between FEMA and the Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association. Legal advice is limited to cases that will not produce a fee. Cases that may generate a fee are turned over to the local lawyer referral service.
The assistance that participating lawyers provide typically includes:
- Assistance with insurance claims (life, medical, property, etc.)
- Counseling on landlord/tenant problems
- Assisting in consumer protection matters, remedies, and procedures
- Replacement of wills and other important legal documents destroyed in a major disaster
Disaster legal services are provided to low-income individuals who, prior to or because of the disaster, are unable to secure legal services adequate to meet their needs as a consequence of a major disaster.
Disaster Case Management
The Disaster Case Management Program (DCMP) is a federally funded grant program authorized by the Stafford Act and administrated by FEMA. DCMP provides funding and technical assistance to ensure the delivery of holistic services to disaster survivors and promotes:
- Effective delivery of post-disaster case management services
- Partner integration
- Provider capacity building
- State level program development.
DCMP is a time-limited process that involves a partnership between a case manager and a disaster survivor to develop and carry out a Disaster Recovery Plan. This partnership provides the survivor with a single point of contact to facilitate access to a broad range of resources.
The DCMP process involves:
- An assessment of the survivor’s verified disaster-caused unmet needs
- Development of a goal-oriented plan that outlines the steps necessary to achieve recovery
- Organization and coordination of information on available resources that match the disaster-caused need,
- Monitoring of progress toward reaching the recovery plan goals, and
- Client advocacy, when necessary.
DCMP, in partnership with the affected State or Tribe, enables a whole community approach through funding support to voluntary, faith-based and nonprofit organizations.
Brocato and Associates has extensive experience in working with Public Assistance grant guidance to assist local, tribal and state governments with the grant application process. Let us help you navigate the Individual Assistance process.