Disaster Services Branch
The Disaster Services Branch of the California Department of Social Services supports local emergency agencies in order to provide temporary shelter, feeding and other services for persons affected by 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 Branch 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 Branch also assists in networking with/between counties. Additionally, the Branch 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. Branch staff may deploy to assist with Mass Care and Shelter response operations throughout the state. Response and training operations are augmented with trained members of the Volunteer Emergency Services Team (VEST), comprised of state employees from a variety of departments and agencies. Integrating response capabilities to address access and functional needs is a focus of the state's Mass Care and Shelter planning and response. The Disaster Services Branch coordinates the Functional Assessment Services Team (FAST) to address access and functional needs in the shelter setting. The Branch also operates the State Supplemental Grant Program, which offers assistance to persons affected by major disasters.