Disaster Spiritual Care (DSC) Program
There is a need for trained and credentialed persons to provide spiritual care services to survivors of disasters across the Rocky Mountain Conference. The United Methodist Church is taking a leadership role in developing a process to organize this effort.
This process is well underway in Colorado with the Colorado Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (COVOAD) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), supported by the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) developing a program to meet this need.
These organizations have formed a Disaster Spiritual Care (DSC) committee to guide program development. Committee members include representatives of various faith-based and non faith-based groups including chaplains serving military, law enforcement organizations, and fire departments.
Once fully implemented in Colorado, this program will be expanded to the other areas across the Rocky Mountain Conference.
This program conforms to the Disaster Spiritual Care Guidelines developed by the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) which provides a framework for developing local disaster spiritual care and includes recommendations for training and credentialing of responders.
The committee has adopted a set of Guiding Principles, which provide a vision for the program:
- Disaster Spiritual Care (“DSC”) is a critical component of Emergency Response and Recovery. As stated in the NVOAD “Light Our Way” guide, the basic standards and principles of Disaster Spiritual Care include:
- Offer presence and hospitality to any persons affected by a disaster
- Meet, accept, and respect persons exactly as they are
- Do No Harm—Never evangelize, proselytize or exploit persons in vulnerable need
- Local spiritual care providers and communities of faith are the primary resources for post-disaster spiritual care
- All communities of faith have the right to provide disaster spiritual care to their own members in accordance with their own traditions (“Pastoral Care”)
- The Colorado DSC initiative is a collaborative partnership between Colorado State government organizations, COVOAD, and other voluntary organizations to ensure coordination of services and the effective deployment of appropriate disaster spiritual care
- Organizations which provide disaster spiritual care services to the general public MUST:
- Be appropriately screened, credentialed, and accountable for their actions
- Be able to work within a multi-agency structure and comply with incident management authorities
- Be trained at a minimum to meet essential competencies identified by the National VOAD Disaster Spiritual Care Guidelines
- Agree to abide by the National VOAD “Disaster Spiritual Care Points of Consensus”
- DSC providers shall conduct themselves during emergency response and recovery so that their behavior does not negatively affect those who have been impacted by disaster
- DSC providers serving the general public should be prepared to partner with behavioral health professionals caring for communities in disaster
The Disaster Spiritual Care Committee has identified four program goals.
- To develop a credentialing process leading to a cadre of disaster spiritual care providers who are recognized by emergency managers throughout the state.
- To develop a baseline training program so there is a common understanding of best practices in providing disaster spiritual care,
- To develop a deployment process to provide for orderly placement of disaster spiritual care providers as needs for their services are identified,
- To facilitate implementation of this effort as a statewide program
The DSC committee has agreed to adopt the Colorado Volunteer Mobilizer (CVM) program which provides visible evidence the provider has the necessary training and competencies to provide disaster spiritual care. Each provider will undergo a background check and will be provided with a photo badge for identification purposes.
The first step in the credentialing process is selection of a CVM administrator who provides oversight and management activities for members of their organization. CVM administrators will also be assigned for providers who are not part of a faith-based organization.
For more information contact Don Falvey at 435 896 3069 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.