CCD Emergency Management Letter of Concern to DHS

Aug 13, 2018 -- Posted by : admin
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Download the Document: PDF | WORD

August 7, 2018

The Honorable Kirstjen Nielsen
Secretary
US Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC

Re: CCD Emergency Management AD Hoc Committee and Allies concerns with DHS-FEMA operations

Dear Secretary Nielsen

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) is the largest coalition of national organizations working together to advocate for Federal public policy that ensures the self-determination, independence, empowerment, integration and inclusion of children and adults with disabilities in all aspects of society.

The 122 undersigned members of the CCD Emergency Management Ad Hoc Committee and allies are writing to express our deep concern over recent reports of significant changes in federal assistance to states in disasters. Ever since the terrorist attacks in 2001 and the devastation of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma in 2005, disability community leaders have sought to ensure that people with disabilities are fully included in the preparation for, response to and recovery from catastrophic emergencies and disasters, and are provided equal access to emergency services and programs, as required by law.

Linda Mastandrea, Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Office of Disability Integration and Coordination (ODIC) announced on May 24, 2018 (at 31 minutes) that effective June 1, 2018, the number of disability integration advisors (DIAs) deployed to states by FEMA in federally declared disasters, including major disasters, will be reduced from approximately 60 to only 5 per disaster. The DIAs have historically been the disability subject matter experts on the ground, assigned to advise the Federal Coordinating Officer, field leadership, deployed response and recovery staff and recipients of federal financial assistance. Their role is to provide guidance, training and technical assistance throughout disaster response and recovery to facilitate the government’s obligation to provide equal access in compliance with the various federal statutes that protect the civil rights of people with disabilities during and after disasters.

We strongly objects to this plan because it lacks transparency and stakeholder input; does not adequately account for the gap in services this reduction of force will create; and will sow dangerous confusion and delay when the needs of people with disabilities remain unmet during the next disaster.

We understand that this move is part of FEMA’s goal to shift greater responsibility for emergency response and recovery to local and state governments. As an overall objective, this is a policy goal that could have merit because of the reality that all disasters occur locally. However, beginning implementation of this policy by experimenting with disability integration support to states and local communities in disasters is unjustified and unwise particularly coming right at the start of hurricane season. It is a drastic change that should be implemented with due diligence and extreme caution, utilizing established objectives and performance measures, and certainly not on the backs of people with disabilities who are repeatedly disproportionately impacted by local, state and federal failures in preparedness, response and recovery.

This change is incongruent with the obligation that FEMA and DHS have for ensuring compliance with the equal access obligations associated with the expenditure of federal funds, regardless of the recipient of those funds. It strains credulity that a plan to immediately eliminate the availability of hundreds of trained disability integration personnel without planning, preparation or notice to the states and communities potentially impacted by the next disaster will result in adequate access to emergency programs and services or a better outcome for people with disabilities and disaster impacted communities.

FEMA’s 2018-2022 strategic plan describes this dramatic shift in broad terms but lacks the transparency necessary to prepare states, emergency managers, public health, community organizations and individuals with disabilities for the next disaster. In fact, the Strategic Plan fails to even mention FEMA’s plan to meet its equal access obligations to individuals with disabilities.

Despite the clear directives for engaging disability organizations in the Post Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act, i.e.; “consulting with organizations that represent the interests and rights of individuals with disabilities about the needs of individuals with disabilities in emergency planning requirements and relief efforts in the event of a natural disaster, act of terrorism, or other man-made disaster”, we are unaware of any stakeholder input in this decision, notice of this change or opportunity to comment on the impact this change will have in how equal access to emergency services and programs is handled during a disaster.

If FEMA continues to move forward with its plan to assign its civil rights responsibilities to states, we urge a corresponding increase in resources for the Department’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties because people with disabilities do not relinquish their rights simply because of a natural or man-made disaster, and the federal government cannot assign its civil rights responsibilities, including monitoring and enforcement obligations, to grantees and sub-grantees.

We therefore request 1) an immediate delay in the implementation of this plan; 2) formal stakeholder input from all states and territories; 3) an increase in Department of Homeland Security staff and resources to monitor the implementation of the Department’s civil rights obligations and report back to CCD whether the policy has an adverse effect on individuals with disabilities and disaster impacted communities, and 4) DHS’s plan for corrective action.

Please contact Dara Baldwin, Senior Public Policy Analyst, National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) at dara.baldwin@ndrn.org or 202-408-9514 ext. 102 with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

CCD Members

  • American Association of People with Disabilities
  • American Network of Community Options & Resources (ANCOR)
  • American Physical Therapy Association
  • Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs
  • Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)
  • Autistic Self Advocacy Network
  • Center for Public Representation
  • Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
  • Justice in Aging
  • National Council on Independent Living (NCIL)
  • National Disability Rights Network (NDRN)
  • National Down Syndrome Congress
  • National Low Income Housing Coalition
  • Paralyzed Veterans of America
  • Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies
  • The Advocacy Institute
  • The Arc of the United States
  • United States International Council on Disabilities

Allies of CCD

  • Access Alaska Inc.
  • Access Independence
  • Access Living
  • ADAPT Montana
  • ADAPT of Texas
  • AIM Independent Living Center
  • Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program
  • Alliance of People With disAbilities
  • American Association on Health and Disability
  • American Therapeutic Recreation Association
  • Appalachian Independence Center, Inc.
  • ARISE Child and Family Service, Inc.
  • Arizona Center for Disability Law
  • Board Resource Center
  • Bronx Independent Living Services
  • Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled
  • Center for Disability Rights
  • Center for Independence
  • Coalition on Inclusive Emergency Planning / WASILC
  • Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition
  • Concerned Citizen
  • DC Metro ADAPT
  • Deaf-Hearing Communication Centre, Inc.
  • Disabilities Law Program, Community Legal Aid Society, Inc., Delaware
  • Disability Action Center - NW, Inc.
  • Disability Community Resource Center
  • Disability Law Center
  • Disability Law Center of Alaska
  • disAbility Law Center of Virginia
  • Disability Law Center, Massachusetts Protection & Advocacy
  • Disability Law Colorado
  • Disability Resource Center
  • Disability Rights Arkansas, Inc.
  • Disability Rights California
  • Disability Rights Center - NH
  • Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
  • Disability Rights Florida, Inc.
  • Disability Rights Iowa
  • Disability Rights Maryland
  • Disability Rights NC
  • Disability Rights Nebraska
  • Disability Rights New Jersey
  • Disability Rights New Mexico
  • Disability Rights Pennsylvania
  • Disability Rights Texas
  • Disability Rights TN
  • Disability Rights Vermont
  • Disability Rights Wisconsin
  • Disability Rights, Education, Activism, and Mentoring (DREAM)
  • Equip for Equality
  • FILC
  • First Responders Disability Awareness Training
  • Florida Alliance for Assistance Services and Technology
  • Florida Democratic Disability Caucus
  • Florida Legal Services
  • Green Mountain ADAPT
  • harlem independent living center
  • Hawaii Disability Rights Center
  • Hispanic Federation
  • Idaho State Independent Living Council
  • Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living
  • Illinois Valley Center for Independent Living
  • Illinois-Iowa Center for Independent Living
  • IMPACT CIL
  • Independence Northwest, Inc.
  • Independence Unlimited
  • Independent Living Inc.
  • Jacksonville Area Center for Independent Living
  • Kentucky Protection and Advocacy
  • Lake County Center for Independent Living
  • Liberty Resources, Inc.
  • Movimiento para el Alcance de Vida Independiente
  • National Foundation for Debt Management
  • National LGBTQ Task Force
  • National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities
  • Native American Disability Law Center
  • New York Association on Independent Living
  • New York State Independent Living Council
  • Northern Regional Center for Independent Living
  • Northwest Colorado Center for Independence
  • Northwestern Illinois Center for Independent Living (NICIL)
  • Not Dead Yet
  • Oklahoma Disability Law Center
  • Options Center for Independent Living
  • Personal Attendant Coalition of Texas
  • PolicyLink
  • Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies
  • Progress Center for Independent Living
  • Protection & Advocacy Project of ND
  • Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities, Inc
  • RCIL
  • Resource Center For Accessible Living
  • Rockland Independent Living Center dba B.R.i.D.G.E.S.
  • Shepherd Center
  • Soyland Access to Independent Living
  • Springfield Center for Independent Living
  • Stahlman Disability Consulting, LLC
  • Statewide Independent Council of Illinois
  • Statewide Independent Living Council of Alaska
  • The Disability Resource Center of the Rappahannock Area, Inc.
  • The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • The United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
  • Trach Mommas of Louisiana
  • USSAAC (US Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication)
  • Vermont Center for Independent Living
  • Vermont Coalition for Disability Rights
  • Washington State Independent Living Council
  • West Central Illinois CIL

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