Abt Associates: Bold thinkers driving real-world impact
To help expedite the delivery of human services to disaster survivors, Abt Associates developed and tested a disaster case management program for the Office of Human Services Emergency Preparedness and Response, Administration for Children and Families (ACF). The prototype disaster case management program that Abt designed was eventually tested during an actual disaster, Hurricane Gustav, in September 2008.
Survivors of disasters often require case management services to help them regain self-sufficiency and return to their pre-disaster condition. But Hurricane Katrina demonstrated that in large-scale disasters the demand for case management services far exceeds what can be provided by existing organizations, which are primarily voluntary and faith-based organizations such as Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army, and the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
In its report The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina: Lessons Learned, the White House recommended that the Federal Government adopt a "one-stop shopping" approach to disaster case management to improve efficiency. As a result, the Stafford Act, the statutory authority for most federal disaster response activities, was amended to authorize the Federal Government to provide funding for disaster case management services. The ACF became responsible for developing a program to provide disaster case management services.
In creating this disaster case management program for ACF, Abt Associates drew on lessons learned from previous and ongoing case management programs for disaster survivors, such as the Katrina Aid Today program and those offered by voluntary and faith-based organizations. Abt Associates engaged federal, state, and local governmental agencies, voluntary agencies, and non-governmental organizations that provide these services, in order to reach a consensus on best practices and a model approach to disaster case management.
A major part of the task was to develop the elements of the disaster case management program—such as the eligibility criteria, the enrollment period, staff roles and responsibilities, case management procedures, service delivery period, exit criteria, and monitoring and evaluation functions. To do this, Abt Associates reviewed existing case management plans and documents, conducted key informant interviews with providers of disaster case management services and others involved in disaster relief and recovery, and convened meetings with key project stakeholders.
Abt Associates also worked with Federal, state, tribal, voluntary agency, and local partners to develop a disaster case management program that could both augment and integrate with existing case management and social service systems, particularly those at the state level. We compared and assessed existing state disaster plans, identified relevant state authorities, and facilitated integration of disaster case management in disaster human services plans, with a focus on Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. These are the Gulf states that comprise FEMA Region IV.
Abt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research, evaluation and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for its rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates is regularly ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms and one of the top 40 international development innovators. The company has multiple offices in the U.S. and program offices in more than 40 countries.