Community Collaboratives

 Bringing Your Community Together for Mental Health Success

 

Rep. Garnet Coleman, Chairman of the House County Affairs Committee, and Rep. Four Price, Chairman of the House Public Health Committee, spoke to county officials at TAC’s 2017 Legislative Conference about new programs created through legislation that focus on reducing the incarceration of individuals with mental illness.

Discussing Senate Bill 1849 (SB 1849), also known as the Sandra Bland Act, Coleman said it helps create jail diversion and channels individuals to the right treatment for their needs. Coleman noted that by using jail diversion techniques, Bexar County reduced its inmate population by 800 beds.

SB 1849 also requires additional training in mental health for jailers and increases the amount of training for peace officers in crisis intervention and de-escalation training. 

Price discussed the grants created for community collaboration: the Community Mental Health Grant Program (created by Senate Bill 13) and the Mental Health Grant Program for Justice-Involved Individuals (created by SB 292). 

The Community Mental Health Grant Program is a collaborative grant to support mental health programs. It’s broad so that it doesn’t restrict programs. To qualify, a program must coordinate with a local mental health authority. The applicant can be a nonprofit, a governmental agency or both. It can be one county or a group of counties. 

HB 13 appropriated $30 million over two years. Year one will allow $10 million in funding, and the second year authorizes $20 million in funding. A dollar-for-dollar match is provided for large counties (over 250,000 population). It requires only a 50 percent match for counties under 250,000. If a group of counties collaborates, the county with the largest population will control the funds.

“There’s a ton of innovative projects going on, and there is no problem that exists that is not being addressed somewhere very well at a local level,” said Price. 

The Mental Health Grant Program for Justice-Involved Individuals focus on jail diversion. SB 292 allocated $37.5 million for county-based community collaboratives. The county must collaborate with the local mental health authority that operates in the county and the hospital district, if there is one, to receive this grant. The grant allows for matching funds based on county size. 

Counties with a population under 250,000 must have matching funds of at least 50 percent of the grant. Counties with a population over 250,000 must match the grant at 100 percent. The matching funds for all counties must come from non-state sources. Limited in scope to HB 13, programs under SB 292 need to be tailored to the requirements of the grant. Counties with a population of 250,000 and above are available to apply for the grant in the first year. All counties are allowed to apply for the grant during the second year.

“The money is there for you to use to make a difference in your community,” said Coleman. ​

 

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