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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Personal Assistance Services to General Population Shelter

What is the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Personal Assistance Services (PAS) Program?

PAS, sometimes referred to as Personal Care Assistance, are formal and informal services provided by paid personal attendants, friends, family members, and/or volunteers that enable individuals with access and functional needs to maintain their independence. Following a disaster or public health emergency, individuals with access and functional needs may require PAS in order to maintain their independence in a general population shelter. The FEMA PAS contract is available when shelters lack sufficient staff, training, or equipment to provide this level of assistance.

The provision of PAS supports the Activities of Daily Living (ADL) including grooming, eating, bathing, toileting, dressing and undressing, walking, transferring, and maintaining health and safety. Depending on an individual’s needs, higher levels of PAS care can include the provision of skin care, catheterization, colostomy care, administering medications, and some respiratory assistance.

When is it available?

When shelter health staff cannot identify a family member or a friend to serve as a caregiver, the shelter health team can assign qualified shelter volunteers to provide assistance, or they can work with the shelter manager and/or through the Emergency Operations Center to contact a local agency to provide PAS.

When the need for PAS exceeds the state’s capability, during a Presidentially-declared disaster, the Governor may request PAS through FEMA. PAS is provided as Individual Assistance (IA) under the Stafford Act, Emergency Support Function (ESF) # 6 – Mass Care, Emergency Assistance, Housing and Human Services, Section 403, to augment the ability of States, Tribes, and United States (U.S.) Territories in helping individuals with access and functional needs maintain their health, safety, and independence in a general population shelter.

What is the structure of the PAS Program?

Within 24 hours, the PAS contractor deploys up to 50 PAS staff. The contract requires that staff are properly licensed, trained, and certified by local, state, territorial, and federal laws and regulations where the general population shelter is located. Furthermore, the PAS contractor may provide necessary and/or required supplies that are not readily available, but immediately needed – such as ADL or higher level PAS care materials. The cost-share for a state or U.S. territory to receive the PAS contract is typically 25 percent, like other ESF #6 support. While there is no minimum number of PAS staff that FEMA can deploy, 20 PAS providers are the recommended minimum number to be cost-effective.

Need More Information?

See the PAS frequently asked questions from FEMA or ask your local or state emergency management system about supports available through ESF #6. You can also review FEMA’s Guidance on Planning for Personal Assistance Services in General Population Shelters.


  • This page last reviewed: September 08, 2020