Lawmakers and grassroots group work to create diversion program

LANSING – In an effort to address mental health resources and diversion initiatives, a grassroots group is working with state lawmakers to create grants that can offer co-response action by law enforcement.

The credit represents a small part of a gigantic budget for the state of Michigan and the potential for widespread impact.

Americans for Prosperity (AFP-MI), a liberal conservative political advocacy group founded in the United States and funded by David and Charles Koch, aims to engage in broad grassroots outreach to advocate for long-term solutions to the most big problems of the country and educate on individual potential.

The Prison Diversion Fund will make grants available to local municipalities interested in implementing co-response programs and other diversion programs for people facing a mental health crisis at the time of contact with them. law enforcement or the courts.

AFP-MI formed the coalition around the idea and worked closely with State Senator Rick Outman (R-Six Lakes), who represents Mecosta County, and health stakeholders. mental and law enforcement to carry out the idea.

The group drew on similar efforts both in Michigan and across the country to develop a strong state-level pilot that will combine best practices and thoroughly assess how different components of the co- response contribute to the success of a program.

Diana Prichard, director of community engagement for Americans for Prosperity-Michigan who organized the coalition around the idea, said the grants will allow the state to meet critical needs within healthcare centers and treatment.

“The Prison Diversion Fund will begin to fill a critical need in our state,” said Prichard. -Community interactions are safer for everyone involved, prevent people from ending up in an endless cycle with the justice system, and save government money in the long run. “

The one-time credit of $ 5 million will fuel a pilot program to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of diversion efforts in the state. Half of the fund will be dedicated to co-response, a model that allows law enforcement and mental health professionals to team up on the ground. The other half will be distributed to other types of diversion programs with priority given to rural areas.

Annie Patnaude, state director for Americans for Prosperity-Michigan, said the grants could make strides in areas such as addiction treatment and mental health services.

“This small item in the state budget could make a big difference in stimulating innovative approaches for safer and healthier communities, especially when it comes to major challenges related to drug addiction and other mental health issues, ”Patnaude said. “We are encouraged by this opportunity for innovators in law enforcement and mental health to help us rethink what it means to deliver value to taxpayers and communities. “

Outman was a tireless partner, leveraging his experience in policy development as well as his commitment to mental health. He and his colleague State Senator Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) are now teaming up to ensure the state can build on the pilot’s success for years to come.

“We greatly appreciate all the stakeholders involved, as well as the tireless work of Senators Outman and Chang. We look forward to developing a full understanding of the value this innovative approach can bring to the health and safety of the community right here in Michigan, ”said Prichard. “This grant program is another opportunity for us to engage in a larger conversation about community safety and mental health. “

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