Baltimore Urban Area Work Group Functional Needs Planning
CHHS Assists with Functional Needs Planning
In December 2012, Senior Policy Analyst JoAnne Knapp and Senior Law & Policy Analyst Elizabeth Webster completed CHHS’ second functional needs project on behalf of the Baltimore Urban Area Work Group Functional Needs and Citizen Involvement Subcommittee. People with functional needs may include those who are non-English speaking, people with disabilities, the elderly, children, those who lack access to transportation, and many others.
The first functional needs project, completed in December 2011, focused on assessing the functional needs support services that exist before, during, and after a disaster, and gaps that need to be addressed. The goals of the first project also included making local offices of emergency management and their services more accessible to people with functional needs, and improving disaster readiness for those with functional needs.
The second project built on the first, and took the next steps towards improving inclusive emergency preparedness by providing free individual preparedness trainings as well as free provider trainings, which focused on providers’ legal responsibilities and compliance. By the end of the project, more than 200 individuals and provider representatives completed the two-hour course.
Additionally, this project considered ways to improve Maryland’s sheltering capabilities by better accommodating people’s functional needs in general population shelters. To accomplish this, CHHS developed and hosted a workshop to review the current status of shelter operations and introduce the Functional Assessment Service Team (FAST) model.
During the workshop, emergency managers, local health department representatives, sheltering representatives from the American Red Cross and the Department of Human Resources, and members of the community with functional needs came together to discuss and evaluate how elements of the FAST model may be incorporated into shelters/ shelter training programs. One of the workshop’s outcomes was the realization that FAST training may provide trainees (e.g., trained shelter staff and nurses) with the skills to assess people’s needs, and the tools to procure and provide needed supplies/services, which will allow people with functional needs to maintain their health, safety, and independence in the shelter setting.
The State of Maryland and the local jurisdictions will have to decide how to implement the project’s findings, but it is clear that the State and locals are committed to serving people with functional needs.