Carroll County Commissioners approve four contracts to increase and improve behavioral health services and residents’ access to them – Baltimore Sun

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Carroll County is working to use millions of dollars in federal coronavirus relief funding to increase and improve mental health services and county residents’ access to them.

Commissioners last week approved a request from the Department of Citizen Services to award contracts to four vendors to expand and improve access to mental health and addictions services. The contracts are for a combined total of $3.4 million, funded by the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program.

The program, part of the U.S. bailout, has provided $350 billion to state, local and tribal governments across the country to support responses to and recovery from the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The Carroll County Department of Citizen Services has been exploring ways to use these funds to help fill gaps in mental and behavioral health services in the county.

At a meeting of the Carroll County Board of Commissioners on Thursday, Celene Steckel, director of citizen services, explained that her department had issued a request for proposals to design programs that expand and improve access to health services. Mental and Substance Abuse for county residents.

Four proposals were selected for funding. They include a request from the Potomac Healthcare Foundation and Maryland Treatment Centers, which provide affordable access to treatment for substance use disorders in Carroll County.

“Their proposal focuses on the growing need for immediate access to drug treatment and treatment for opioid use disorder for those released from incarceration,” Steckel said.

Another provider, Affiliated Health Group, has operated Carroll’s mobile crisis response team for more than four years.

“Their crisis program is part of a well-integrated behavioral health care continuum that works to provide crisis intervention, stabilization, and helps connect consumers to ongoing care,” Steckel said.

The Health Affiliate Group’s proposal would increase administrative services and add a crisis stabilization team to improve consumer follow-up activities and reduce police wait times for mobile crisis dispatch.

Access Carroll, a non-profit organization that maintains a multi-service integrated health model for those at risk, including addiction and behavioral health services, has offered continued funding for a peer recovery specialist, as well as the addition of two peer recovery specialists and community health workers to respond to service demands in Carroll County.

The fourth proposal came from the Carroll County Youth Services Bureau, a multidisciplinary behavioral health practice that offers a wide range of outpatient treatment options and preventive services designed to support children and adolescents as well as youth, adults and transition-age families.

The office’s proposal would be for an expansion of open access to allow for more assessment slots and appointments available for clinical services.

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All contracts will be funded through December 31, 2024.

Steckel said an evaluation committee has been formed to perform a technical and financial review of submitted proposals. The committee evaluated all proposals against the criteria detailed in the RFP.

The committee included Steckel, staff from the county grants office, as well as Carroll County Public Schools and the county health department.

“This is a great use of FRF dollars, especially as we enter post-COVID,” said Commissioner Chair Ed Rothstein, a Republican from District 5. “I really applaud you because that behavioral health is important.”

Commissioner Eric Bouchat, a Republican representing District 4, called himself a “great champion” for access to behavioral health services in the community.

“Of all the relief funds we’ve received, in my view, this is probably the single most important long-term funding we’re allocating to our citizens,” he said. “It will also help relieve law enforcement.”

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