California Hope Sonoma – Supporting Fire and Flood Survivors

About California Hope

California Hope is a program that provides free crisis counseling services to persons, families, and groups most affected by the Sonoma Complex fires. California Hope is funded by the Federal Emergency and Management Agency (FEMA) and is administered by the California State Mental Health Authority (CMHA) in conjunction with the Sonoma County Department of Health Services: Behavioral Health Division (DHS: BHD). The Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program (CCP) aims to assist individuals and communities in recovering from the challenging effects of natural and human-caused disasters through the provision of community-based outreach and psychoeducational services.

West County Community Services is coordinating the California Hope program for western Sonoma County, including the lower Russian River area and Healdsburg.


CCP Goals

The CCP helps people recover and rebuild their lives after a disaster. The CCP supports short-term interventions that involve the following counseling goals:

  • Helping disaster survivors understand their current situation and reactions
  • Reducing stress and providing emotional support
  • Assisting survivors in reviewing their disaster recovery options
  • Promoting the use or development of coping strategies
  • Connecting survivors with other people and agencies who can help them in their recovery process

The CCP strives to:

  • Reach large numbers of people affected by disasters through face-to-face outreach to shelters, homes, and other locations
  • Assess the emotional needs of survivors and make referrals to traditional behavioral health services when necessary
  • Identify tangible needs and link survivors to community resources and disaster relief services
  • Provide emotional support, education, basic crisis counseling, and connection to familial and community support systems
  • Train and educate CCP staff and other community partners about disaster reactions, appropriate interventions, and CCP services
  • Develop partnerships with local disaster and other organizations
  • Work with local stakeholders to promote community resilience and recovery
  • Collect and evaluate data to ensure quality services and justify program efforts
  • Leave behind a permanent legacy of improved coping skills, educational and resource materials, and enhanced community linkages

Key Principles

The CCP follows key principles that make it different from other survivor support programs. The CCP is:

CCP Services

The CCP offers services to disaster survivors in their homes, shelters, temporary living sites, or houses of worship. Funded CCP services include:

  • Individual and group crisis counseling
  • Basic supportive or educational contact
  • Community networking and support
  • Assessments, referrals, and resources
  • Development and distribution of educational materials
  • Media and public service announcements

Services are expected to transition from the CCP to existing community resources as the program phases out.

Service Descriptions

Individual Crisis Counseling Helps survivors understand their reactions, improve coping strategies, review their options, and connect with other individuals and agencies that may assist them
Basic Supportive or Educational Contact General support and information on resources and services available to disaster survivors
Group Crisis Counseling Group sessions led by trained crisis counselors who offer skills to help group members cope with their situations and reactions
Public Education Information and education about typical reactions, helpful coping strategies, and available disaster related resources
Community Networking and Support Relationship building with community resource organizations, faith-based groups, and local agencies
Assessment, Referral, and Resource Linkage Adult and child needs assessment and referral to additional disaster relief services or mental health or substance abuse treatment
Development and Distribution of Educational Materials Flyers, brochures, tip sheets, educational materials, and Web site information developed and distributed by CCP staff
Media and Public Service Announcements Media activities and public messaging in partnership with local media outlets, State and local governments, charitable organizations, or other community brokers of information


Crisis Counselor’s Role

Crisis counselors should be familiar with FEMA programs in order to inform and educate survivors and facilitate appropriate referrals.  Survivors may have misconceptions about available assistance from FEMA.  Crisis counselors should not join survivors in expressing angry reactions and should not take on the role of advocate for the survivor.  The crisis counselor’s role is to educate, inform, and support survivors in problem-solving, prioritizing needs and improving communication skills, thus empowering survivors to advocate for themselves.

Contact: Jon Foye (707) 608-8807