DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office in partnership with DeKalb Community Service Board (CSB) and DeKalb County Human Service Team was recently selected for a $200,000 federal grant from the US Department of Justice to increase public safety through innovative cross-system collaboration. The ONE DeKalb-START2 grant will facilitate collaboration between the county’s criminal justice and behavioral health system to increase access to community-based treatment for individuals with substance use disorders or co-occurring mental health disorders who are incarcerated in the DeKalb County jail.

The Sheriff’s Office and DeKalb CSB have a long history of partnering to provide substance abuse treatment in the jail and have long recognized that they must take a comprehensive approach when considering the many dimensions of transitioning offenders from incarceration into the community. This comprehensive approach was recognized by NIATx during their evaluation of the 90-day Start Treatment and Recovery Today (START) program in the jail. NIATx, a learning collaborative within the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies, in partnership with the National Reentry Resource Center selected the START program as one of only three pilot sites nationally to provide process improvement and technical assistance within the criminal justice setting. The goal of the NIATx technical assistance grant, awarded in April 2012, was to enhance treatment referral and coordination process between the jails and community-treatment providers and to improve offender access to substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorder services.

The new federal funding for the ONE DeKalb-START2 grant will achieve this goal by expanding the START Program to include a comprehensive case management service. This service commences upon initial entry into the START program and continues through the 90-day program and release process, including a 45-day aftercare component. This specific expansion was determined after two separate START program evaluations identified the need to develop community treatment referrals, increase aftercare program attendance and retention, and reduce treatment wait times and participant no-shows.

“We are excited that the hard work continues,” said Brenda Cibulas, DeKalb CSB’s Chief Clinical Officer. “This is a continuing story and effort, not a moment in time achievement. Our success is only measured by the ability to support people with meaningful outcomes.”

Elizabeth Upshaw, Director of DeKalb CSB’s Criminal Justice Programs, said, “Offenders provided with support both while in custody and when they return to their communities are less likely to return to destructive behaviors, are also less likely to recidivate and have an easier time reintegrating back into the community. Improving reentry success rates would in turn improve public safety, reduce admissions to prisons and jails, and save taxpayer dollars.”

DeKalb County’s Human Services Team will act as the fiscal agent to ensure accountability and measured efficacy of the programs sustained by this federal funding. Human Development Director Dale Phillips, who coordinated the grant application, said, “The successful DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department, DeKalb County Community Service Board and DeKalb County Human Services grant application for the ONE DeKalb/START 2 program initiative represents the fulfillment of CEO Lee May’s directive that departments come out of their silos and work collaboratively to bring needed resources to DeKalb County citizens. It was a pleasure to have representatives of DeKalb CSB, DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office and DeKalb Human Services collaborate on this winning endeavor on behalf of DeKalb County!”