A Human Services Response to Emergencies: Culturally Competent and Trauma Informed Care

2023 NACo Achievement Award Winner

Montgomery County, Md., MD

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About the Program

Category: Risk and Emergency Management (Best in Category)

Year: 2023

Nationally, the incidence of fire, floods, and structural disasters are rising. Under the direction of the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Emergency Preparedness, Response and Mass Care, the Community Action Agency (CAA) has joined with DHHS service areas, other Departments, and partners to assure that people displaced by disasters have equitable access to services. We are Maryland’s only county integrating this wraparound model within its disaster response. CAA’s navigators work with Takoma East Silver Spring (TESS) Community Action Center staff work to address immediate needs and coordinate case management with department colleagues. This collaboration ensures that residents affected by disasters have a single access point to available services such as rehousing assistance, privately raised donations, insurance assistance, shelter and more. This approach prevents victims who have suffered significant losses from recurring trauma every time they seek services. The team’s culturally diverse members speak Spanish and Amharic and their training and knowledge about the community enables them to adeptly connect across the cultural divide and provide responsive care. This team has worked on nine recoveries in the past year, rehousing and connecting 235 households with invaluable resources, never leaving them without care from the moment of displacement to after rehousing.

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