Membership Meeting – April 18th, 2024

Welcome Back, Members!

Happy April, and thanks for joining us for a very informative Membership meeting! 

This month, we dove deep into the evolving landscape of behavioral health crisis response in King County, bolstered by insights on the forthcoming implementation of the Crisis Care Center Levy. We also shared updates from the Coalition on our ongoing legal advocacy for the rights of those experiencing homelessness, particularly as the pivotal case, Grants Pass v. Johnson, approaches its hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court. You can watch the meeting or read on for a summary of what we learned from our friends at Regional Crisis Response and King County Behavioral Health and Recovery Division.

The Current Landscape of Crisis Response – Someone to Respond

We were joined by Brook Buettner, the Director of Regional Crisis Response in North King County, who helped shed light on what crisis response currently looks like in King County. 

Hear directly from Brook on our YouTube recording.

Brook shared slides about where crisis responders fit in the continuum of care and how the Regional Crisis Response (RCR) team is re-imagining public safety. 

In their service area, RCR is deployed alongside fire and police as a “co-response” – a model  many regions of WA are moving towards in which many emergencies call for other resources beyond a “badge and a gun” to keep communities safe.

RCR is staffed by clinical social workers – at least half of whom have lived experience. The team responds to moments of crisis and acute emergency calls, including but not limited to folks living homeless, opioid and fentanyl crises, and trafficking. Their services include immediate de-escalation, informal assessment (not diagnosing or treating), and referrals to the Community of Care. Since their launch in 2017, they have collected the following outcome data:

Beyond the emergency department and jail, folks need a place to go. Brook shared that a Crisis Clinic called Connections Health Crisis Triage Facility is coming to Kirkland in July. This walk-in behavioral health urgent care facility will be accessible to anyone (regardless of insurance) over 18. Emergency responders can bring people in for urgent care, longer-term hospitalization, and follow-up until clients are engaged in ongoing outpatient care. To hear more about how the county is preparing to better serve folks in the continuum of care, we heard directly from King County Regional Crisis Response Division team members.

The Future of Crisis Response – Somewhere Safe to Go

The largest gap in the continuum of care for our community’s behavioral health crisis response is a safe place to go – or Crisis Care Centers. To help us better understand what the future of crisis response looks like, we were joined by Behavioral Health and Recovery Division Director Susan McLaughlin and Crisis Care Implementation Director Kate Baber, who updated us on the Crisis Care Center Levy plans. 

Hear directly from Susan and Kate on our YouTube recording.

Crisis Care Levy Highlights

  • Approval and legislative progress of the $1.2 billion levy aimed at developing a regional network of 5 Crisis Care Centers.
  • The centers will offer 24/7 behavioral health urgent care, a 23-hour observation unit, crisis stabilization units for up to 14-day stays, and several weeks of follow-up care to ensure safe community reintegration.

Timeline 

  • 2024 will see expansions in Mobile Crisis Teams, embedding of behavioral health counselors in 911 call centers, and broader distribution of opioid overdose reversal medications.
  • 2026 aims to be the operational launch of the Crisis Care Centers.

All this information is available in their slide deck, including their list of current resources for those experiencing behavioral health crises and ways to stay engaged. 

Questions about Crisis Care Centers and interim resources? Contact King County DCHS.

Legal Advocacy: Learn the Landscape and Get Involved

Our Director Alison briefed us on the upcoming Supreme Court case, Gloria Johnson v. Grants Pass. This significant case could set a national precedent regarding the rights of individuals experiencing homelessness. Visit the National Homelessness Law Center’s website for more details.

Join Us

Take advantage of our Community Advocacy Briefing with the ACLU and NW Justice Project on April 30, from noon to 1:30 p.m., for a comprehensive discussion on the implications of this case and others like Hale vs. Burien.

We’re excited to see you at our next Annual Membership Meeting on May 16th as we celebrate 45 years of the Coalition’s efforts and achievements. Keep up with the Coalition to stay informed about our advocacy work, provider training, and more. Sign up for our emails and stay connected!