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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Improving the Integration of CBOs: Building Relationships in Preparation for the Next Emergency

As trusted entities within their communities, CBOs are well positioned to partner with emergency management and public health entities to address the access and functional needs of at-risk individuals during future public health emergencies. Increased utilization of community data, as well as cross-sector partnerships between CBOs and health care organizations (HCOs) can meaningfully address the access and functional needs of communities. Below are examples of community data in action and opportunities for cross-sector collaboration:


Topic Areas


Paving the Way for Increased CBO Capacity Building and Community Partner Collaboration

Capacity Building Guides and Resources: Created by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), in collaboration with ASPR and ACL, the Capacity-Building Toolkit for Including Aging and Disability Networks in Emergency Planning provides helpful worksheets, resources, and guidance on ways for state and local public health organizations, as well as CBOs, to meaningfully address individuals access and functional need in preparation for or in response to public health emergencies. For those who work with individuals experiencing homelessness in their communities, the Disaster Preparedness to Promote Community Resilience: Information and Tools for Homeless Service Providers and Professionals toolkit equips homeless service providers and public health officials with helpful information to address the access and functional needs of those experiencing homelessness in their community when a disaster strikes.

Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP): In anticipation of the next public health emergency, CBOs may want to identify community partners with whom they can work closely with to address the access and functional needs of their community. Doing so may be difficult at first, but tapping into or becoming a part of a health care coalition (HCC) is a good place to start. A national directory of HCCs which are funded through ASPR’s Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) can be found online. Through the HPP’s federal funding, CBOs can more easily identify community partners with a common mission and/or a shared understanding of what is required of preparedness planning and work closely with health and community organizations, including faith-based organizations, hospitals, and public health professionals, to prepare for and respond to the public health emergency. HCC involvement has many positive spillover effects including but not limited to purchasing power coalition opportunities and increased visibility in the community.


Ways to Identify, Communicate With, and Locate At-Risk Populations during an Emergency

Community Outreach Information Networks (COINs): Information sharing with other CBOs as well as individuals with access and functional needs can be especially difficult before, during, and after an emergency. COINs do a great job of filling that information gap by allowing CBOs to more easily reach their clients and caregiving partners through accessible and culturally sensitive information during emergency planning and response situations. CBOs may want to consider convening a COIN if one does not already exist. If one does exist, a CBO may want to consider operating as a COIN partner in order to connect clients and at-risk populations to important and timely information.

HHS emPOWER Program: In 2013, ASPR in partnership with the CMS, developed the HHS emPOWER program which equips public health authorities, when requested, with secure information on members of the community who rely on life-saving, electricity-dependent medical equipment (e.g. oxygen tanks and electric wheelchairs). Through the use of secure information sharing, communities are not only able to respond to individuals’ access and functional needs, but are also able to conduct life-saving outreach to members of the community prior to, during, and after a public health emergency.

Patient Unified Lookup Services for Emergencies (PULSE): PULSE allows secure access to health records to treat people that are injured or displaced due to disasters. PULSE may serve as a helpful resource for CBOs as they plan for how best to ensure that individuals and their access and functional needs are met in an emergency. This is especially helpful for those with access and functional needs who may have been displaced from their usual continuum of care or home environment.

  • This page last reviewed: July 08, 2020