Behavioral Health Programs to start in Pilot cities in October


As the last few kinks of new legislation are ironed out, we are beginning to see new programs implemented and new laws enforced.

The justice reinvestment bill has many parts to it, all in hopes of lowering incarceration numbers. The community behavioral health program will be starting in a city near you.

In October, 4 pilot cities across the state will begin training for the community behavioral health program.

Pamela Sagness; Director of Behavioral Health Division; Department of Human Services: “So we want to look at things like care coordination. How do we ensure when an individual is in need that they can get the services they need? I think it’s so important we consider things like housing and safety and food and basic needs. If someone doesn’t have their basic needs, it’s really difficult to focus on recovery.”

The overall goal of the program is to keep people out of jail, and get them the help they need.

Lisa Peterson; Clinical Director at DOCR: “People in the criminal justice system are kind of set aside and left to their own devices to change. Now we’re taking the perspective that it takes a community and it takes that connection. The more people are connected to the community, the more successful they’ll be.”

And what gives this program the edge it needs to succeed is that its a partnership with the DOCR, the Department of Human Services, and local agencies

Pamela Sagness; Director of Behavioral Health Division; Department of Human Services: “The opportunity is that, where one program leaves off and another program begins, there’s an opportunity to have a warm hand-off.”

A $7 million budget will fund this program and the money it will save goes right back to the state.

Pamela Sagness; Director of Behavioral Health Division; Department of Human Services: “Because if it’s effective, it will be saving dollars in other ways. Whether that’s incarceration or children that are no longer with their parents and in our child welfare system. So it has an impact. It really is statewide.”

And for many in attendance, they hope to see this program nip the problem at the bud.

Kim Osadchuk; Director of Burleigh County Social Service: “I would hope it would eliminate a lot of our crises we have. So many people coming out of jail, they don’t have a job, they don’t have housing, they have families. It’s a whole gammit.”

The plan is to expand this program from the 4 pilot cities to a statewide level before the next biennium. The next step is to lock down vendors who can partner with the state as rehabilitation programs.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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