The CARE Program
One of Stanislaus County’s top priorities is our newly created cross-sector, cross-agency, multi-disciplinary team. This team focuses on helping to restore the individuals in our community causing the most significant distress in our community and for themselves.
This priority population, those not connected or engaged in services, often struggle with:
- High-Risk Health and Safety Behaviors
- Vagrancy-Related Criminal Behavior
- Severe and Persistent Mental Illness
- Substance Use Disorders
On December 11, 2017 over 50 community leaders were convened with the authority over resources or policies that have a direct responsibility to serve this population. The group pledged their commitment and accountability to participate in a 90-day planning process.
The first workgroup meeting was held December 21, 2017. The project team was a joint county and city effort with Deputy CEO, Ruben Imperial of the Focus on Prevention team and Rick Armendariz, Assistant Modesto Police Chief taking the lead on a Community Assessment Response and Engagement (CARE) initiative. While recent efforts such as Focus on Prevention have begun to make progress in strengthening the response to local homelessness, there was no means available to urgently respond.
The CARE initiative is an innovative approach to a complex problem. Over a 90 day period, a work group met weekly to map assets, unpack problematic processes, and identify service gaps while building a new approach that could increase accountability, and alignment- developing a system and service model that has never been utilized in our community. The group was made up of representatives of twenty or more partners who directly serve this population, regularly working with those who are homeless, show signs of high-risk health and safety behaviors, mental illness, criminal behavior and substance use. The list of partners can be found in our brochure.
In April, a Multi-Disciplinary Team(MDT) made up of police & fire department from the Homeless Engagement and Response (HEART) Team, behavioral health and recovery services clinicians and other support services were deployed as a pilot program model to engage this priority population, determine how individuals might be helped, and how ongoing issues might be addressed. Over a span of two weeks the pilot program tested a new service model with multiple agencies working in tandem to engage individuals on a case-by-case basis. Results of the two week pilot indicated that many were willing to engage (75% signed the release of information, 25% agreed to services), proving this approach may achieve desirable results.
On June 26, the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors approved the continuation of the CARE MDT strategy to address vagrancy and help individuals in distress due to severe mental illness and substance use disorders in our county. Contingency funds of $500,000 from the Focus on Prevention budget will be used if needed, along with the following approved resources:
- Three staff including one Fire Fighter-Paramedic, one Police Officer, and one Police Sergeant provided by the City of Modesto at an estimated total cost of $616,000.
- One Public Health Nurse/Registered Nurse provided by external partners at an estimated total cost of $241,000.
- One Deputy District Attorney allocated to the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office at an estimated total cost of $157,000.
- One Supervising Deputy Probation Officer and one Probation Officer provided by the Stanislaus County Probation Department at an estimated total cost of $274,000.
- Staffing and funding for one data analyst will be determined.
- One Social Worker Case Manager provided by the Stanislaus County Community Services Agency at an estimated total cost of $104,000.
- A Mental Health Team comprised of two case managers and one Mental Health Clinician provided by the Stanislaus County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Department at an estimated total cost of $273,000.
- One Public Defender provided by the Stanislaus County Public Defender’s Office on a part-time basis at an estimated total cost of $66,000.
- A placeholder of approximately $121,000, should resources not be available from any of the partner agencies to provide needed training, operating supplies, and/or emergency client support services that could include meals, clothing, temporary shelter, etc.
The City of Modesto will continue to support the HEART team by sustaining and adding public safety personnel. For the 18/19 budget, the city has added a dedicated crew who will come in after the MDT and HEART teams have delivered care in order to provide the necessary restorative clean-up work throughout impacted areas of the city.