Disaster Services

The three programs that the California Department of Social Service’s, Disaster Services Section are responsible for are supporting counties' mass care and shelter programs in California, state and federal grant recovery programs for individuals and households, and Emergency Repatriation. These program responsibilities are delegated to the Department through an Administrative Order from the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, issued under the authority of Executive Order W-9-91.

Mass Care and Shelter

The Disaster Services Bureau of the California Department of Social Services supports local emergency agencies in order to provide temporary shelter for those who cannot safely remain in their homes due to a disaster or emergency. Shelters are generally opened and operated by the American Red Cross, assisted by local or county employees. Meals are provided at the shelters and also are provided for disaster victims who have been able to remain in their homes, but are unable to prepare meals. The mass care and shelter disaster response function is delegated to the Disaster Services Bureau of the California Department of Social Services through an Administrative Order by the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES).

The Disaster Services Bureau also assists in networking with/between counties. Additionally, the Bureau tracks resources needed for care and sheltering with other state agencies and coordinates with the

American Red Cross to assist in training for shelter operations. Bureau staff may deploy to one or all of the three Regional Emergency Operations Centers throughout the state at the request of Cal OES. Staff is augmented with trained members of the Volunteer Emergency Services Team (VEST).

VEST is comprised of approximately 100 employees from various state departments who have volunteered for membership. Recruited, trained and deployed by the California Department of Social Services, VEST members may be used in a variety of capacities including assisting at one of the Regional Emergency Operations Centers to help coordinate mass care and shelter functions.

Once activated by Cal OES, Disaster Services Bureau staff assist in the mass care and shelter function by: 1) Tracking shelter status; 2) Tracking feeding services; 3) Coordinating state resources; and 4) Supporting the American Red Cross in sheltering operations.

California Grant Assistance for Individuals and Families

The California Department of Social Services, Disaster Services Bureau, can provide grant assistance through two programs. They are the Individuals and Households Program (IHP) and the State Supplemental Grant Program (SSGP).

Note : Not all programs may be implemented in a Presidential Disaster Declaration. Individuals should check with their local Office of Emergency Services to see which programs apply when a disaster is declared.

Individuals and Households Program (IHP)

The Individuals and Households Program (IHP) is a joint Federal and State program. The program can provide assistance following a Presidentially-declared disaster when the federal assistance to IHP is implemented. Under IHP, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may provide awards in the form of rent, home repair or replacement, transportation repair or replacement, funeral expenses, personal property, medical, dental or other miscellaneous expenses. FEMA disaster assistance covers basic needs, but does not normally compensate disaster victims for their entire loss. Each situation is unique and is handled on a case-by-case basis. Anyone who suffers damage in a Presidentially-declared disaster can register for assistance by calling the FEMA registration line, 1-800-621-3362. For the speech- or hearing-impaired, the number is 1-800-462-7585.

For general information or to make changes to an existing application, the FEMA disaster information Helpline number is 1-800-621-3362 or TTY 1-800-462-7585.

State Supplemental Grant Program (SSGP)

California's State Supplemental Grant Program (SSGP), administered by California's Department of Social Services, Disaster Services Bureau, may provide grant funds to assist people who have suffered damage in a disaster area declared by the President when the federal assistance to IHP is implemented. The SSGP is 100 percent State funded. The grant may assist with any eligible items not already addressed by the IHP. However, individuals must have applied to FEMA and maximized the IHP award in order to be eligible for SSGP. State grants cover disaster-relief needs in the same categories as the IHP.

If you have reached the maximum IHP assistance, FEMA will automatically transmit your application to SSGP. There is no separate application process for SSGP. If you have questions about the State Supplemental Grant Program, you may contact SSGP at 1-800-759-6807, or for the speech- or hearing-impaired, the TTY number is 1-800-952-8349.

Click on the following links for more detailed information about the SSGP.

Contact Us

If you have any questions regarding the State of California's Disaster Services Section, please send an email to dssb@dss.ca.gov or contact us at (916) 651-8880. If you are asking a question please include enough information for us to contact you and follow up.