A Special Needs Shelter (SpNS) is a place to go when there is no other sheltering option. Shelters may be activated during an emergency event to provide mass care for people who cannot safely remain in their home. Special needs shelters are designed to meet the needs of persons who require assistance that exceeds services provided at a general population shelter. Special needs shelters are intended to provide, to the extent possible under emergency conditions, an environment that can sustain an individuals' level of health.
The Florida Department of Health, Bureau of Preparedness and Response administers a statewide Special Needs Shelter Program to assist local communities in meeting the needs of special medical and vulnerable populations.
Purpose: To establish Special Needs Shelter standards, protocols, and technical assistance that can be integrated into the Florida Emergency Management System.
Mission: To develop a standardized, comprehensive, county, regional and statewide approach to Special Needs Shelter (SpNS) operation that ensures continuity in services and quality care to clients, caregivers and staff during their stay in a Special Needs Shelter.
Vision: To provide services to Florida’s residents with access and functional needs during a disaster using a systems approach, integrating with community partners to provide the best possible sheltering experience.
SpNS Tools and Resources
This webpage contains a collection of tools and resources to assist local officials and planners, special needs shelter consultants, shelter unit leaders, nurses, or others who may have a role in sheltering activities.
F.S. Ch. 252.355—Registry of persons with special needs; notice.
F.S. Ch. 252.356—Emergency and disaster planning provisions to assist persons with disabilities or limitations.
F.S. Ch. 381.0303—Healthcare Practitioner Recruitment for Special Needs Shelters
FAC 64-3—Florida Administrative Code—Rules related to Special Needs Shelters
Internal Operating Policy: General 8 Special Needs Shelter Planning
Technical Assistance Guidelines: General 12 Special Needs Shelter Planning
Special Needs Shelter Operations Guide Revised 6-14-12
Special Needs Shelter Operations Guide Forms—Stand-alone copies of forms and reports linked to the Special Needs Shelter Operations Guide. Sample forms are provided to promote consistency in SpNS shelter operations throughout the state.
SpNS Intake Form
SpNS Job Action Sheets
SpNS Walk Through Survey
SpNS Sample Supply and Equipment List
SpNS Level of Care Matrix
Staff and Volunteer Line List
Visitor and Family Sign In Sheet
Shelter Isolation Precautions
Shelter Guidance Respiratory
Media Permission and Release Form (English) (Spanish) (Haitian-Creole)
Required Activation Reports and Guidelines
Instruction is provided by Regional Special Needs Consultants with the assistance of the Bureau of Preparedness and Response State Coordinator for Special Needs Shelters. Continuing education credit is provided for successful completion of these courses free of charge for Florida nurses by the Florida Department of Health. For additional information contact your Regional Special Needs Consultant.
If you have feedback or input on how to improve this toolkit or would like to share/submit additional resources for inclusion in the toolkit, send an email to the below address:
"Under Florida law, e-mail addresses are public records. If you do not want your e-mail address released in response to a public records request, do not send electronic mail to this entity. Instead, contact this office by phone or in writing." - Fla. Stat. sec. 668.6076
To contact us by phone call (850) 245-4040
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