Outreach : Wake County Human Services
Program/Practice Description: By co-locating Work First case managers and Qualified Professionals in Substance Abuse (QPs), Wake County Human Services is able to provide integrated and continuous care to individuals who may require substance abuse and mental health treatment.
Innovations and Results: At Wake County Human Services, QPs are housed with Work First staff. Work First customers meet with Work First case managers who then refer the clients to QPs for screening. QPs have designated time slots for assessment each week and try to make appointments with clients within the same week. There are two full-time QPs at each facility as well as treatment providers located on the same campus. Work First job counselors and case managers provide follow-up.
Partnerships: Work First and mental health/substance abuse treatment staff participate in monthly Work First Steering Committee meetings and supportive team staff meetings. Through partnerships with Job Link, Wake County Business Advisory Council, and employers, clients are assisted with obtaining job readiness skills. Wake County Human Services also provides transportation assistance through vendors, bus passes, and gas cards. Child care is an available resource for Work First customers and can be utilized contingent on clients' needs to become job ready.
Tips to Implementation: Challenges that Wake County Human Services have encountered include increasing collaboration and communication between QPs and Work First staff, and coordinating authorization processes and other reform-generated administrative procedures. Mental health reform currently does not provide sufficient funding and administrative mechanisms to pay private agencies for the time needed to provide their services in that manner. However, critical to Wake County Human Services' success in overcoming some of these challenges have been the co-location and integration of staff across welfare, mental health, and substance abuse to form one team mutually responsible for the same clients. Wake County has been purposeful in maintaining this program within the larger integrative efforts of the agency, with successful results.
Keys to Success:
- Integrated services with Work First case managers, QPs, and mental health providers co-located
- Staff part of one team with mutual responsibility for clients
- Policies implemented by Work First, such as mandatory screenings, appointments with QPs, follow-up sessions with QPs, and required follow-ups
- Commitment to reducing/limiting the number of steps between assessment and service to make it easier for clients
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