Center for Behavioral Health and Justice and Dean Sheryl Kubiak receive grant to collaborate with community partners to improve Wayne County jail diversion program

Wayne State University’s School of Social Work Dean Sheryl Kubiak and researchers from the Center for Behavioral Health and Justice received $350,000 from the Flinn Foundation’s Collaborative Partnerships Initiative to work with behavioral health and law enforcement stakeholders in the development, implementation and improvement of jail diversion programs in Wayne County.

Founded in 2018, the Center for Behavioral Health and Justice is a ‘center of excellence’ housed in the Wayne State School of Social Work to assist local communities, organizations, and behavioral health and law enforcement agencies across Michigan in diverting individuals with mental health and substance use disorders from the criminal justice system to appropriate treatment. Specifically, the CBHJ provides stakeholders with expertise, evaluation, support, training and technical assistance to inform effective, evidence-based policy and programs. The center currently houses three initiatives, 1) Stepping Up Technical Assistance, through which the center assists the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services provide technical assistance to Michigan counties working to keep individuals with mental illness out of jail; 2) the Michigan Re-entry Project, which provides wraparound supports to individuals exiting prison or jail who have co-occurring mental health and opioid use disorders; and 3) Statewide Jail Diversion, through which the center advises the Michigan Mental Health Diversion Council based upon the evaluation of jail diversion programs.

The current project will build upon the Statewide Jail Diversion work conducted thus far by the center and will involve the completion of four identified priorities for change in Wayne County. Specifically the CBHJ team will conduct:

  1. Cross-system training will include the development of a training plan for law enforcement officers and crisis intervention teams working with persons with mental illnesses. The center also seeks to strengthen the involvement of Veteran Affairs services and support for veterans with mental health issues in a Wayne County Jail.
  2. Cross-system data sharing will involve the development of data sharing procedures, systems and methods to improve jail diversion activity among various agencies and stakeholders groups.
  3. Improve pre-booking alternatives for law enforcement will include the inventory, assessment and recommendations for the pre-booking process at existing community-based crisis response units and drop points in Wayne County. The center will also initiate the formal planning of a crisis center in Wayne County, develop a community resource guide and leverage opportunities to expand education around assisted outpatient treatment.
  4. Improve linkages between clinical providers and jail/transition planning through the development and implementation of a pilot project for those with mental health needs and a misdemeanor offense. The CBHJ will also look to expand medication assisted therapies and strengthen the bridge between jails and the community.

A project coordinator from the CBHJ will serve as an external facilitator who will guide and support the work of the Wayne County Mental Health Jail Diversion Committee and other key stakeholders involved with objectives using a ‘boundary spanning’ approach to bring systems and individuals together from an external, relatively neutral place. The CBHJ project coordinator and an assistant will participate on Wayne County Mental Health Jail Diversion Committee, facilitate attainment of committee’s four goals, provide ongoing monitoring of sub-committee work, support connections with agencies, providers and hospitals, and help facilitate the evaluation of the goals.

“Working with committed community leaders such as Judge Burton, Judge Kenny and Andrea Cole to improve responses to individuals with behavioral health disorders – across multiple systems within Wayne County – is really exciting” Kubiak stated. “Moving away from a punitive approach to one that is more strengths-based will increase the likelihood that individuals receive the services they need, no matter which door they enter the system. Change in Wayne County is on the horizon.”

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