The Citizen Corps is a program under the Department of Homeland Security that provides training for the population of the United States to assist in the recovery after a disaster or terrorist attack. Each local Citizen Corps Council partners with organizations, volunteers and businesses to organize responders, volunteers and professional first responders for an efficient response so efforts aren't wasted by being duplicated. By training in Incident Command, volunteers know who to report to and how the incident is organized. This prevents sites from being inundated by untrained and unprepared people milling about and getting in the way. Citizen Corps also works in conjunction with the Corporation for National and Community Service in promoting national service opportunities for promoting homeland security needs.
In January 2002, President George W. Bush launched the USA Freedom Corps to promote volunteer service opportunities within the United States and abroad. Created within months of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the program sought in part to encourage volunteer participation in homeland security. Citizen Corps, a component of USA Freedom Corps, was developed to help coordinate such volunteer activities and to increase the capacity of American communities to respond to any emergency. The program's goal is to provide opportunities for people to participate in a range of measures to make their families, their homes, and their communities safer from the threats of crime, terrorism, and disasters of all kinds.
Citizen Corps encourages citizens to engage in a number of activities to help prepare themselves and their communities:
The program is coordinated nationally by the Department of Homeland Security. In this capacity, the Department of Homeland Security works closely with other federal entities, state and local governments, first responders and emergency managers, the volunteer community, and the White House Office of the USA Freedom Corps.
In many counties and cities, the local emergency sheltering programs along with pet co-sheltering (Animal Response Teams) are trained and organized by Citizen Corps. Some emergency sheltering programs work with local Red Cross districts, along with various NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations, such as community centers and Faith-based groups such as Churches). By coordinating emergency sheltering programs at local Emergency Management Offices or EOCs (Emergency Operations Centers), efforts are efficient and save everyone money and time.