Update on Delayed Mental Health Triage Grant

Police and VCBH wait for grant to begin

By Lori Denman

The SB 82 Triage Grant set to create teams of police officers with mental health professionals was to begin last July, yet was put on hold due to funding issues.

New information has been stated that explains why this funding has decreased. Meanwhile, Ventura Police Chief Ken Corney is one of the many people waiting for the grant to begin, in order to help the homeless, especially its youth, suffering from mental health issues. Once homeless persons are assisted, it may also become easier to pinpoint and tackle vagrancy.

The grant – which partnered efforts of Ventura County Mental Health and the Ventura Police Department – will develop two outreach and engagement teams (i.e., one in each east and west county of Ventura), specializing on bringing transitional-aged youth (ages 16 through 25) with serious mental health illnesses into outpatient treatment and services. Other neighboring cities will also create teams, including Oxnard and Simi Valley.

Vivian Cazanis with Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) commented on the latest news of the grant on August 22. She explained that earlier this year, the commission awarded triage grants through three requests for applications: 1) Adult/TAY; 2) Children/Youth; and 3) School-County Collaborative.

“On June 27, 2018, Governor Brown signed the 2018/19 budget which reduced funding for Triage programs from $32 million to $20 million in FY 2017/18 and ongoing to reflect the commission’s historic level of grant expenditures,” Cazanis told Citizens Journal.  “This reduction allows for a portion of the funds to be reinvested for other ongoing mental health purposes, including suicide hotlines.

The commission staff is in the process of working with the counties to modify proposals to reflect the reduction in the triage funding.

Schipper said that VCBH is actively looking at how they are going to modify the proposed programming to adhere to the 29 percent budget reduction, but he is confident they will be operational November 1 in accordance with the direction they are getting from the State.

Additional Mental Health Funding

Cazanis explained that Counties receive more than $4.5 billion annually in State support for various mental health programs, including Mental Health Services Act programs.

This tool displays information about funding and expenditures by County Mental Health/Behavioral Health departments in programs under the MHSA, including revenue from the Mental Health Services Fund and Realignment funds, as well as Medi-Cal matching funds.  This link  provides fiscal information for Ventura County, as well as Statewide fiscal information.

John Schipper said that for further information, it would be helpful to reference the Mental Health Services Oversight Accountability website where one will find information about the SB 82 Triage Grant process along with the letter indicating the intent to award to VCBH.

Schipper added, “This is the source of State funding that is allowing VCBH to (1) partner with law enforcement and (2) develop two outreach and engagement teams (i.e., one in each east and west county) specializing on bringing transitional-aged youth (i.e., ages 16 through 25) with serious mental health illnesses into outpatient treatment and services.”

Lori Denman has been a professional journalist since 1996. She has worked as associate editor for the Los Angeles Daily News TODAY Magazines and has freelanced for LA Weekly, Surfline.com and more. She is now the Ventura reporter for Citizens Journal.

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Laura Espinosa
Laura Espinosa
2 years ago

Excellent story. Your links are so helpful.

William Hicks
William Hicks
2 years ago

Yet they can bring a bill to vote to tax those consuming water.