Creating and Operating a Family Assistance Center - A Toolkit for Public Health

Supporting Families During Times of Crisis

Transportation accidents. Natural disasters. Terrorism. Pandemics. Our communities are faced with potential threats that could result in multiple casualties or fatalities every day. While the risk of threats may vary depending on the size and location of your city, county, or region, all of our communities face some type of threat that could render many individuals injured or deceased and many family members and friends in need of information and support.

This toolkit gives you a framework for you and your team to plan and operate a Family Assistance Center (FAC) during a mass-casualty or mass-fatality incident. It is intended to serve as a resource to help you develop a plan for family assistance services that can be applied to all hazards. The goals of this toolkit are to help you:

  • Understand the context and rationale for operating FACs during mass-casualty or mass-fatality incidents,
  • Identify the principles that should guide the operations of a FAC and
  • Develop a plan for a FAC, including strategies for addressing the behavioral health needs of families.

Every community is different, and the planning process may take different shapes and forms. This toolkit will give you a starting point to begin a dialogue within your organization and with your community and emergency response partners, while serving as a guide to outline the planning steps you should take so that you are better prepared to support victims’ families during times of crisis.

*Last updated 2012