Special Needs Shelter Program
A Special Needs Shelter (SpNS) is a place to go when there is no other sheltering option. Shelters may be activated during an emergency event to provide mass care for people who cannot safely remain in their home. Special needs shelters are designed to meet the needs of persons who require assistance that exceeds services provided at a general population shelter. Special needs shelters are intended to provide, to the extent possible under emergency conditions, an environment that can sustain an individuals' level of health.
The Florida Department of Health, Bureau of Preparedness and Response administers a statewide Special Needs Shelter Program to assist local communities in meeting the needs of special medical and vulnerable populations.
Purpose: To establish
Special Needs Shelter standards, protocols, and technical
assistance that can be integrated into the Florida Emergency
Mission: To develop a standardized, comprehensive, county and regional approach to Special Needs Shelter operation that ensures continuity in services and quality care to clients, caregivers, and staff during their stay in a Special Needs Shelter.
Vision: Provide services to Florida's vulnerable population and people with special medical needs during a disaster using a systems approach, integrating with community partners to provide the best possible sheltering care.
This webpage contains a collection of tools and resources to assist local officials and planners, special needs shelter consultants, shelter unit leaders, nurses, or others who may have a role in sheltering activities.
|Statutes and Rules|
F.S. Ch. 252.355 - Registry of persons with special needs; notice.
F.S. Ch. 252.356 - Emergency and disaster planning provisions to assist persons with disabilities or limitations.
F.S. Ch. 381.0303 - Healthcare Practitioner Recruitment for Special Needs Shelters
FAC 64-3 - Florida Administrative Code - Rules related to Special Needs Shelters
|Operating Procedures and Guidelines|
Special Needs Shelter Operations Guide Forms - Stand-alone copies of forms and reports linked to the Special Needs Shelter Operations Guide. Sample forms are provided to promote consistency in SpNS shelter operations throughout the state.
Required Activation Reports and Guidelines
SpNS CHD Plan Assessment - This tool may assist counties when writing, reviewing, or updating local SpNS plans.
|Training and Education|
Special Needs Shelter Courses: Face-to-face trainings presented by Regional Special Needs Consultants with the assistance of the Bureau of Preparedness and Response statewide Special Needs Coordinator.
Special Needs Shelter (SpNS) Overview - A basic course for public health staff who may have a role in activation, operation, and deactivation of special needs shelters. The course includes information on sheltering roles of both the Division of emergency Management and Florida Department of Health, the definition of a special needs client, appropriate triaging, and individual roles and responsibilities of shelter staff. Training and educational needs for staffing shelters is identified and discussed.
Special Needs Shelter (SpNS) Operations and Management Training - For public health staff who have a role in the activation, operation, and deactivation of special needs shelters. The course includes aspects of individual roles and responsibilities of SpNS staff. An interactive exercise during which participants will review and assess an existing SpNS plan provides an opportunity to use the knowledge gained during the class.
Continuing education credit for nurses is available for successful completion of these courses. For additional information, contact your Regional Special Needs Consultants.
DOH Preparedness Milestone Courses:
Awareness: Introduction to public health nursing preparedness. Offers 1.0 nursing continuing education credit (CE). A pre-requisite to the Operations level course.
Operations: Outlines roles and responsibilities of the Public Health/CMS nurse who staffs a special needs shelter. Offers 2.0 CEs. A pre-requisite to the last course in the series, Leadership.
Leadership: Specifically designed for Public Health/CMS Nurse Leader. This is advanced training on planning, communication, response, and recovery. The course offers 3.0 nursing CEs.
Access to the courses is available through Trak-IT under the course names:
DOH Preparedness for Nurses - Awareness
DOH Preparedness for Nurses - Operations
DOH Preparedness for Nurses - Leadership
Nursing Refresher Skills Course - Developed by nurses to provide a refresher tool for providing medical care to people in special needs shelters. The course provides information to enhance skills and confidence by providing an opportunity for didactic and hands on skills practice. The course is offered on-line through Saint Petersburg College - select course #706. Continuing education credit is provided free of charge by the Florida Department of Health for Florida nurses or others in an included discipline who create a free Online CE account.
Serving People with Functional and Access Needs in Shelters - Developed with a grant from the Florida Department of Health in partnership with the Florida State University and the American Red Cross. The course is hosted on the American Red Cross website. Training is designed to give participants an overview of functional and access needs, techniques for assisting people with functional and access needs in a sheltering environment, and introduce related laws and guidelines. Persons can self enroll in the course at https://classes.redcross.org. Search in the Learning Catalog under the "Courses" tab for the Course Title or Course ID, DISFANS100.
Florida's 2012 Statewide Emergency Shelter Plan - A guide for local emergency planning. The plan also provides advisory assistance to school districts contemplating construction of educational facilities and the need to provide public shelter space within those facilities. The plan is submitted for approval to the Governor and Cabinet by January 31 of each even-numbered year.
SpNS Brochure (English)
Training, Exercise, and Evaluation - Link to Department of Health, Bureau of Preparedness and Response Training, Exercise, and Evaluation Webpage.
Interagency Committee Meeting January 18, 2013
If you have feedback or input on how to improve this toolkit or would like to share/submit additional resources for inclusion in the toolkit, send an email to the below address:
"Under Florida law, e-mail addresses are public records. If you do not want your e-mail address released in response to a public records request, do not send electronic mail to this entity. Instead, contact this office by phone or in writing." - Fla. Stat. sec. 668.6076
To contact us by phone call (850) 245-4040