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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Core Mission Areas

Health and Social Services Recovery Support Function

The Health and Social Services Recovery Support Function (H&SS RSF) has identified nine core mission areas: public health; health care services impacts; behavioral health impacts; environmental health impacts; food safety and medical products; long term health issues specific to responders; social services impacts; referral to social services/disaster case management; and children in disasters.

Public Health 

  • Implementation of strategies to assess and monitor the public health, disease surveillance and injury prevention of the impacted community in order to identify and mitigate health problems,
  • Assistance with the development and implementation of risk communications and public health messaging for the disaster, and
  • Provision of technical assistance (e.g., instructional staff, curriculum development experts, subject matter experts and professional staff) to provide site-specific hazard awareness related to recovery.

Health Care Services Impacts

  • Assessment of disaster-related structural, functional and operational impacts to health care facilities (e.g., hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, assisted living centers, blood banks, dialysis centers, substance abuse treatment facilities, poison control centers, medical and dental offices).

Behavioral Health Impacts

  • Assessment of disaster-related structural, functional and operational impacts to behavioral health facilities and programs,
  • Transition of Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program operations – administered by HHS/SAMHSA and funded by FEMA,
  • Engagement with community behavioral health partners to assess needs, provide technical assistance and identify best practices, including those for prevention, and connect practitioners with resources,
  • Engagement with stakeholders to develop strategies, including population-based strategies, to address ongoing behavioral health assessment, surveillance and long-term treatment needs, and
  • Development and dissemination of consistent messaging and guidance concerning stress management and mitigation strategies.

Environmental Health Impacts

  • Surveillance of the environment in an affected community to determine if post-disaster conditions may cause adverse public health effects, and
  • Provision of technical assistance (e.g., scientific data and models) and environmental health trainings.

Food Safety and Regulated Medical Products

  • Provision of technical assistance to FDA-regulated biologics, device, drug, animal feed and human food establishments to protect public health, and
  • Assessment of an impacted community’s food supply networks to ensure food safety.

Long-term Health Issues Specific to Responders

  • Determining which groups of responders should be included in a health care or disease registry program to monitor their long-term physical and behavioral health, and
  • Establishing and implementing long-term tracking of responder health, and the appropriate duration and content of long-term health tracking.

Social Services Impacts

  • Assessment of disaster-related structural, functional and operational impacts to social services facilities (e.g., community congregate care, child care provider facilities, Head Start centers, senior centers, homeless shelters) and programs (e.g., domestic violence services, child support enforcement, foster care, family support programs);
  • Assessment of disaster-related impacts to at-risk individuals (e.g., children, older adults, pregnant women, individuals experiencing homelessness, people living with disabilities and others who may have additional access and functional needs, people with pre-existing mental disorders, people with limited English proficiency and other underserved populations);
  • Identification of disaster-related social services needs that cannot be met with community resources due to the disaster; and
  • Provision of technical assistance in assessing the health care services needs of disaster-impacted individuals and the applicability of Federal programs’ flexibilities and waivers that may be strategically leveraged to enhance the state’s capacity to meet those needs.

Referral to Social Services/Disaster Case Management 

  • Implementation of coordinated system(s) for referral of individuals and families with unmet disaster-related needs to appropriate social services and strategic leveraging of Federal social services programs to mitigate social disruption and transition individuals and families back to self-sufficiency, and
  • Facilitating the delivery of federally-supported Disaster Case Management, either through the FEMA DCM State Grant, ACF-led Immediate Disaster Case Management Program, or other mechanisms as described in the FEMA DCM Program Guidance.

Children in Disasters

  • Support as appropriate, the restoration of the educational environment for students and staff in impacted communities,
  • Coordination of health and social services delivered through state or tribal liaisons to support impacted schools, and  
  • Support state, territorial, tribal, or local government efforts to coordinate enrollment, educational  services, and health and social services for students that are homeless and/or displaced prior to, or as a result of, the disaster.


  • This page last reviewed: January 18, 2019