Pierce County Council announcement.
The Pierce County Council acted Tuesday to approve the county’s first round of expenditures from the newly collected behavioral health and therapeutic courts tax, distributing $20.2 million to organizations offering programs focused on substance abuse disorder and mental health treatments.
The county’s Behavioral Health Advisory Board, established in 2021 by Council to create a six-year plan to improve behavioral health outcomes in the county, reviewed 32 proposals for funding submitted to the county’s Human Services Behavioral Health division.
Using the adopted Behavioral Health Improvement Plan as its guide, the advisory board made funding recommendations based on the following targets:
- Community educations, early intervention, and screening
- Outpatient and community-based services
- Crisis and inpatient services
- Services for the justice involved
- Behavioral health housing supports
Ultimately the advisory board recommended funding 25 proposals. With its action Tuesday, Council authorized funding for those 25 programs, plus four more, bringing the total number of programs funded to 29. A full list of the programs funded, and at what amounts, is available online.
“Historically as government, we have allowed things to get to a point of crisis before trying to help,” said Pierce County Councilmember Jani Hitchen. “These expenditures support programs aimed at helping people before they hit crisis levels, reducing more severe and life-threatening outcomes for some of our residents.”
The funded proposals offer support to a wide range of individuals, including youth and LGBTQ youth, families, veterans, those that are justice-involved, and programs that are culturally responsive. It also helps pay for behavioral health co-responders to accompany Pierce County Sheriff’s deputies on behavioral health related calls.
The funding period runs for 18 months from July 1, 2022 to Dec. 31, 2023.
“This investment is the next step in addressing the disparity in resources for those in our community impacted by behavioral health disorders, substance abuse, or who are family members trying to support loved ones experiencing crisis,” Hitchen said. “I appreciate the work of our Behavioral Health Advisory Board and the providers that applied for funding. The intentional implementation of these programs in the coming months will support those in our community who need help and have a positive impact for years to come.”
As part of its action Tuesday, Council also directed the Human Services Department to consult with the Behavioral Health Advisory Board to establish an appeals and secondary consideration policy before future funding considerations are made, and tohire a full-time employee to manage programming related to the fund.