What efforts have already been made to increase and enhance services for substance use disorder, mental health, and emergency response in Whatcom County?

Whatcom County Response Systems division of Health and Community Services has a number of programs to support community members facing substance use disorders, mental health challenges, and other emergency situations, including:

  • Anne Deacon Center for Hope: The Anne Deacon Center for Hope is an overnight, short-term facility for people having a mental health crisis or needing help with withdrawal from alcohol or other drugs.
  • ART: The Alternative Response Team is a behavioral health specialist and a public health nurse that respond to specific non-violent behavioral health 911 calls in Bellingham.
  • Co-Responder Program: The Sheriff Co-Responder Team works in close coordination with the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office and provides a behavioral health specialist to ride along with law enforcement calls when appropriate. The co-responder can also follow up individually with clients to make sure someone in need is connected to services and long-term support.
  • GRACE: Ground-Level Response and Coordinated Engagement connects people with complex behavioral health and medical needs who frequently interact with emergency systems to intensive case management.
  • LEAD: Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion offers people who have behavioral health needs a path out of the criminal justice system and into intensive case management.
  • Mental Health Court: Mental Health Court provides wraparound support to promote engagement in mental health care, recovery, and wellness for individuals with pending charges in the court. A Public Defender may refer them to Mental Health Court as an alternative to incarceration, with a goal of preventing future involvement in the criminal legal system.
  • Way Station: In partnership with Unity Care Northwest, PeaceHealth, and Opportunity Council, the Way Station (slated to open in 2024) will serve homeless individuals in need of hygiene, medical and behavioral health services, and/or recuperative respite.  

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1. What's in the Justice Project Implementation Plan?
2. Who is guiding the work of the Justice Project?
3. What is the timeframe for proposed projects in the draft Implementation Plan?
4. How is the work of the current Justice Project different than previous efforts and ballot measures?
5. How will the public be informed about progress toward implementation plan projects and goals? How will the county be transparent in tracking progress?
6. How can community members provide feedback, ask questions, and offer input on the Justice Project and Implementation Plan?
7. What funding is available for proposed projects in the Implementation Plan?
8. What efforts have already been made to increase and enhance services for substance use disorder, mental health, and emergency response in Whatcom County?
9. What incarceration prevention and reduction strategies are being implemented?
10. How are people with lived experience and BIPOC communities involved in this process?
11. Who will provide oversight for Implementation projects?
12. What is the plan for replacing the jail?
13. Will funding a new jail and behavioral health center limit or reduce funding for substance use disorder, mental health, and other wraparound services?
14. Who is in the Whatcom County Jail, and why are they in jail?
15. Why are people in the jail pretrial?
16. Can the County eliminate bail?
17. What criteria are used to determine jail size, and how many beds are being proposed?
18. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each proposed location for a new jail and behavioral health and treatment facility?
19. What are the cost estimates for all the proposed facilities?
20. How was money from the 2004 tax (ballot measure) spent?