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Ensuring the Delivery of Human Services in Disasters

Ensuring the Delivery of Human Services in DisastersIn many communities, non-profit human service agencies are relied upon to meet the needs of at-risk communities in crisis situations – persons at greater risk for severe outcomes following disasters. Engaging non-profit human service agencies (HSAs) in preparedness, response, and recovery activities has thus become a priority for mitigating the human consequences of disasters and public health emergencies. Despite this recognition of HSAs as key partners in mitigating the human consequences of disasters, little is known about the readiness of these organizations to deliver human services during a major, community-wide emergency, particularly one that requires integrating efforts with public safety and government partners.

United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (UWGPSNJ) asked the Center for Public Health Readiness & Communication (CPHRC) at the Dornsife School of Public Health to explore these issues and produce a white paper that outlines existing capacity and challenges for HSAs in Southeastern Pennsylvania, and proposes recommendations for future planning.

The specific objectives of this white paper were to: (1) assess the current capacity of human service agencies in Southeastern Pennsylvania to provide services in a major disaster; (2) identify challenges and successful strategies for providing those services; and (3) formulate specific recommendations for government planners and the non-profit sector to promote the integration of HSAs into emergency preparedness and response activities in the region; and (4) facilitate the beginning of coordinated, collaborative planning.

Executive Summary

Ensuring the Delivery of Human Service Agencies in Disasters: A White Paper for Southeastern Pennsylvania