Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $573,536)
Each year, over 10 million Americans are in need of care during a behavioral health crisis,1 most commonly seeking assistance through law enforcement and emergency departments. However, communities are increasingly calling for crisis care responsibilities to shift away from police departments, instead investing in alternative models (e.g., responses by co-response teams of police and clinicians, responses by only non-police practitioners). However, there is little rigorous research testing these models.
The proposed project focuses on the implementation of San Gabriel Valley Crisis Assistance Response & Engagement, a program piloting a co-responder model in six municipalities in Los Angeles County, four of which will transition to a clinician-only alternative response model. This evaluation will: 1) explore the factors that influence the implementation of a behavioral health co-responder model and adaptation to an alternative response model; and 2) assess the effectiveness of these models, particularly for vulnerable populations. More specifically, this project will evaluate implementation barriers, facilitators, and outcomes, assess client outcomes, and gather valuable insight from program clients and the community
Using a rigorous mixed methods approach, the project will include: 1) an implementation and adaptation evaluation employing evidence-based implementation science frameworks; and 2) an outcome evaluation employing a quasi-experimental difference-in-difference approach. To ensure community involvement, a Community Advisory Board (CAB) comprised of individuals with lived experience in mental health, homelessness, and crisis systems will advise the project.
To maximize the impact of the research, this project will execute a multi-pronged, multi-media dissemination approach. Findings will be presented in various community, practitioner, and academic forums in the region and beyond, along with a short film to enhance engagement and give voice to the experiences of program staff and clients. Emphasis will be placed on providing feedback to participating municipalities and police departments to enhance continuous quality improvement. Goals of this dissemination strategy include improving implementation and effectiveness at the local level while informing and motivating a broader audience of policymakers and researchers.
Overall, this project seeks to enhance understanding of the factors that allow for successful implementation of co-responder and alternative response models. By conducting a rigorous evaluation, the project will contribute valuable insight that can inform the development and improvement of similar programs nationwide. Partnering with municipalities, police departments, and the CAB ensures a comprehensive and inclusive approach to the research with the ultimate goal of improving care for individuals experiencing behavioral health crises. CA/NCF
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