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 Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program provides unemployment benefits and re-employment services to individuals who have become unemployed because of major disasters. Benefits begin with the date the individual was unemployed due to the disaster incident and can extend up to 26 weeks after the Presidential declaration date. These benefits are made available to individuals not covered by other unemployment compensation programs, such as self-employed, farmers, migrant and seasonal workers, and those who have insufficient quarters to qualify for other unemployment compensation.
All unemployed individuals must register with the state's employment services office before they can receive DUA benefits. However, although most states have a provision that an individual must be able and available to accept employment opportunities comparable to the employment the individual held before the disaster, not all States require an individual to search for work.
Disaster Legal Services
When the President declares a disaster, FEMA/EPR, through an agreement with the Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association, provides free legal assistance to disaster victims. Legal advice is limited to cases that will not produce a fee (i.e., these attorneys work without payment). 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.