The Biden-Harris Administration is using the full resources of the federal government to respond to the horrific massacres that took place at Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York, and at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. This fact sheet summarizes some key federal social service programs and other supports that are part of that mobilization.
- The Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) funds VictimConnect, a service administered by the National Center for Victims of Crime, which provides confidential assistance to crime victims. Trained specialists are available to help locate services in the victim’s area, including mental health counseling, legal services, and more. Contact VictimConnect from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time at:
- Phone: 855–4–VICTIM (855–484–2846)
Dial 711 and VictimConnect staff can provide services through an interpreter in more than 200 languages, and to hearing- and speech-impaired individuals.
- Phone: 855–4–VICTIM (855–484–2846)
- New York’s Crime Victims’ Compensation Program, funded in part through the OVC-administered Crime Victims Fund, may help offset a victim’s financial burden related to funeral, mental health, medical, and other expenses. Here is contact information for this program:
- Texas Crime Victims’ Compensation Program (CVC) is managed by the Office of the Attorney General and helps crime victims and their immediate families with the financial costs of crime. CVC covers crime-related costs such as counseling, medical treatments, funerals, and loss of income not paid by other sources.
- The OVC-funded National Mass Violence Victimization Resource Center is dedicated to improving community preparedness and the nation’s capacity to serve victims recovering from mass violence through research, planning, training, technology, and collaboration. In response to the Buffalo and Uvalde shooting, the NMVVRC compiled a list of resources that may be helpful. OVC has specific resources for Uvalde and Buffalo.
- The FBI Office for Victim Assistance utilizes the resources of their Victim Assistance Program and Victim Specialists to provide assistance to victims of crimes investigated by the FBI. For more information on this program call 877-236-8947.
Providing Mental Health Resources and Other Supports:
- Funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) supports the Disaster Distress Helpline, a national helpline dedicated to providing year-round disaster crisis counseling. This 24/7 toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to residents in the United States and its territories who are experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters, including incidents of mass violence. Call or text the hotline at 800–985–5990. Additional resources and guidance on how to address community needs after incidents of mass violence is also provided online through SAMHSA.
- SAMHSA funding also supports the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a national network of local crisis centers that provides 24/7, free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress anywhere in the United States. Individuals experiencing thoughts of suicide or concerned about a loved one in crisis can contact 1-800-273-TALK or text HOME to 741741 to reach a trained crisis counselor.
- Texas Health and Human Services (HHSC) provides mental health crisis services. Crisis help is available 24 hours/7 days a week and includes prompt face-to-face crisis assessment, crisis intervention services, crisis follow-up, and relapse preventing services. The HHSC guide has information on various state-funded crisis services and organizations that can help connect people to resources. These resources can be found here.
- The SAMHSA-funded National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) coordinates with trauma-informed experts across the country to provide technical assistance, subject matter expertise, and onsite support in the wake of community-wide trauma.
- In Buffalo, two NCTSN members, BestSelf Behavioral Health and Jewish Family Services, are currently coordinating the provision of culturally competent, trauma-informed counseling for local community members. BestSelf has also worked with local schools to offer counseling directly and indirectly to impacted youth. Jewish Family Services is also operating drop-in support centers in Buffalo staffed by licensed mental health professionals. Jewish Family Services is offering cultural brokers to speak with the diverse student population.
- In Texas, Family Service Association of San Antonio, a NCTSN member in San Antonio, is providingsupport to the families and community of Uvalde. Serving Children and Adults in Need (SCAN) will offer training to teachers in Uvalde about responding to children with trauma while managing their own trauma.
- SAMHSA continues to support the delivery of crisis counseling services for re-traumatization and exacerbation of pandemic-related stress in Buffalo, using the COVID Crisis Counseling Assistance & Training Program statewide grant.
- The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services has also enabled Medicaid coverage for qualifying community-based mobile crisis services in the state, and is conducting outreach and providing technical assistance to those wishing to apply. More information about New York’s crisis response system is located here, and about Texas’s crisis services, here. For more information about Medicaid call 877-267-2323.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs has deployed a Mobile Vet Center to offer in-person support for all impacted community members – even if they are not veterans – in both Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas. These mobile centers are staffed by licensed clinicians and peers with expertise in trauma and readjustment counseling and with training in disaster response. The Vet Centers are available to support service members, veterans, and their families. They will also help connect community members who are not veterans to needed resources. To call the national Vet Center Call Center, dial 877-927-8387.
- The federal Temporary Assistance Needy Families (TANF) program supports a New York program that provides short-term help for needy men, women, and children. The program has a family assistance component and safety-net assistance for households without children. In Texas, families with children can look to the Texas TANF program for cash assistance for basic needs.
- HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response coordinates the Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange (TRACIE) which provides a wide range of resources, information, and guidance to communities affected by tragedy. These technical assistance resources can support local leaders in Buffalo and Uvalde as they seek to address pressing needs and challenges. For more information about the TRACIE program, call 1-844-587-2243.
- To find behavioral health treatment facilities, type in “Buffalo NY” or “Uvalde, TX” into the search engine at https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. A list of providers of behavioral health will be generated. The SAMHSA National Helpline is available 24/7, 365-day-a year in English and Spanish at 1-800-662-4357.
- Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are the largest systems of primary and preventive care in the U.S. To find FQHCs in the area, visit https://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/ and type “Buffalo NY” or “Uvalde, TX” in the search button to see the health clinics in these communities.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed technical packages to help states and communities take advantage of the best available evidence to prevent violence.
- Under the Project School Emergency Response to Violence (Project SERV), the Department of Education can provide support to local educational agencies (LEAs) or institutions of higher education (IHEs) after a traumatic event, which may occur on or off of school or campus grounds. These grants are intended to provide funds to meet acute needs and restore the learning environment, for example by surging mental health supports to students and staff. The Department of Education has communicated to Buffalo Public Schools and the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District (Uvalde CISD) that it stands ready to help the school districts access these resources.
- The Department of Education is also encouraging educators and families across the country to reference its report providing information and resources to promote mental health and social and emotional well-being among students among early childhood, K–12 schools, and higher education settings.
- The Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Supportive Schools has established the Readiness and Emergency Management for School (REMS) Center to perform two critical functions: build the preparedness capacity (including prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery efforts) of schools, school districts, IHEs, and their community partners at the local, state, and Federal levels; and serve as the primary source of information for schools, school districts, and IHEs for emergencies. The following resources are available through the REMS Center: Recovery from an Emergency Incident; Supporting Child and Student Social, Emotional, Behavioral, and Mental Health Needs; Becoming Trauma Informed: Taking the First Step to Becoming a Trauma-Informed School; and a Managing Donations and Volunteers Fact Sheet.
Securing Access to Nutritious Food:
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers an array of programs aimed at securing access to nutritious food, including in Buffalo and Uvalde:
- If you are seeking food assistance, please call the USDA National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE to speak with a representative who will find food resources such as meal sites, food banks, and other social services available near your location. The Hotline operates from 7:00 AM – 10:00 PM Eastern Time. You can also text to the automated service at 914-342-7744 with a question that may contain a keyword such as “food”, “summer”, or “meals” to receive an automated response to resources located near an address and/or zip code.
- In Buffalo, two food banks are available, FeedMore WNY and Feed Buffalo. FeedMore WNY can be reached at 716-852-1305. Feed Buffalo can be reached at 716-588-0137. Uvalde residents can reach the San Antonio Food Bank at 210-431-8326.
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is a federal program that provides nutrition benefits to low-income individuals and families that are used at stores to purchase food. New York and Texas have online purchasing as a shopping option for SNAP recipients. If you are already a SNAP recipient, please see the list of retailers in New York and Texas accepting SNAP payments online. To apply for SNAP, please contact the New York State SNAP Office or Texas State SNAP Office. For any SNAP questions, you may call the SNAP Toll-free Information Number at 1-800-221-5689.
- Buffalo and the greater San Antonio region are home to thousands of our nation’s veterans as well as hundreds of VA employees. The Department of Veterans Affairs operates several local facilities in Buffalo and in the greater San Antonio region. The Buffalo Regional Office provides information about VA benefits and services, as well as helps process veterans claims for assistance and support from the VA. The Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the South Texas Veterans Health Care System offer comprehensive, integrated health care for veterans enrolled in VA health care.
- Veterans who receive care at VA may access VA Mental Health Services and/or engage with a mental health specialist at their local VA facility.
- Veterans, active duty service members, family members, caregivers, and survivors who need counseling support or access to other resources may visit a community-based VA Vet Center. The Buffalo Vet Centeris open Monday through Friday, 8:00am – 4:30pm. There are also Vet Centers is San Antonio and Laredo, Texas. Vet Centers also offer services during non-traditional hours to include evenings and weekends. Please inquire with your local Vet Center as to availability.
- Veterans or those concerned about a veteran who is in distress, may contact the Veterans Crisis Line which is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by phone (1-800-273-8255; Press 1); text message (838255); or online chat.
- Veterans and employees impacted may be eligible for support through the VA. Visit www.va.gov for additional one-stop access to a variety of VA information and resources. Additional information is also available 24/7 through MyVA411 at 1-800-698-2411 or through TTY at 711.
Defusing Conflict and Building Community:
- The Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service (CRS) has sent a team to Buffalo. CRS helps communities facing conflict based on actual or perceived race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or disability. CRS facilitates dialogue, mediation, training, and consultation to assist communities to come together, develop solutions to the conflict, and enhance their capacity to independently prevent and resolve future conflict. The CRS resource center is here.
Providing Affordable Access to Broadband:
- The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) helps ensure that households can afford the high-speed internet service that they need for work, school, healthcare and more. You can apply for this benefit here. Or, if you need to speak with someone about your eligibility for the ACP benefit or your application status, please call the ACP Support Center at (877) 384-2575.
Helping the Helpers:
- The Department of Commerce is offering grants and cooperative agreements to leverage existing regional assets and support the implementation of economic development strategies and projects that advance new ideas and creative approaches to advance economic prosperity in distressed communities.
- The Buffalo Division of Citizen Services coordinates and oversees AmeriCorps VISTA Project M.O.V.E. Buffalo. Project M.O.V.E. stands for Mobilizing Opportunities for Volunteer Experience. City government and city managers involved in the efforts to eradicate poverty and solve complex social problems in Buffalo are pooling their resources to make substantial capacity-building investments in programs serving underserved neighborhoods. The current list of AmeriCorps VISTA Project Sites are: AmeriCorps VISTA | Buffalo, NY (buffalony.gov).
Preventing Targeted Violence:
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and The National Counterterrorism Center offer resources to help prevent targeted violence and keep individuals and institutions safe. Here are a few of those resources:
- Resources to help with facility assessment and organizational readiness:
- Resources to help with personal readiness and preparedness:
- DHS/Federal Emergency Management Administration grant programs to address security and prevention:
- Connecting with Homeland Security Information Network Portal and resources from The National Counterterrorism Center: