Over $10.6 million in funding has been signaled for Improving People’s Access to Community-based Treatment, Supports and Services (IMPACTS), a new program and an Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) policy priority for the 2019 Legislative Session.

The program, created in Senate Bill 973 A, is closely modeled after the successful Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI), passed in 2013 to invest locally in cost-efficient and effective county programs that reduce recidivism and reduce costs to the overall justice system.

IMPACTS, like JRI, will be housed in the Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) and create a grant program to provide counties, tribal nations, and regional consortiums with resources to build a stronger and more comprehensive system of community supports and services for individuals with mental health and/or substance use disorders who are at risk of involvement with the criminal justice system (jails), emergency rooms, and institutions, including the Oregon State Hospital. This program is not in competition with the current aid and assist program, but rather creates an additional support to help fully utilize community resources and make targeted investments in critical areas.

SB 973 A calls for incorporation of a number approaches and issues as part CJC’s IMPACTS grantmaking process, including: identifying and focusing on frequent users of jails; prescribing grant approval methodology; use of outcome measures and evaluation tools; behavioral health workforce challenges; and housing. Under the bill, pilot programs will be funded across the state and could include individual counties or groups of counties. The bill will also earmark that $300,000 of the total allocated funds ($10.6 million) be used for research to measure success of the program.

SB 973 A passed the joint ways and means subcommittee on public safety and is scheduled to go before the full ways and means committee on June 7. The bill represents a partnership between CJC and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA).

Commissioners Claire Hall (Lincoln County) and Jim Doherty (Morrow County) played leadership roles in helping create SB 973 by serving on the Behavioral Health Justice Reinvestment Initiative Steering Committee over the last 10 months. This steering committee was chaired by Marion County Sheriff, Jason Myers and OHA Director, Pat Allen. Association of Oregon Counties’ (AOC) Legislative Affairs Manager, Andy Smith has been working with legislators and stakeholders to help build consensus on the bill.

Note: IMPACTS was originally known as Behavioral Health Justice Reinvestment Initiative (BHJRI), but was modified through the legislative process.

Contributed by: Megan Chuinard | Public Affairs Associate