Johnson County accepts $2.1 million in state grants to expand behavioral health services for youth in crisis, homeless individuals

Johnson County Mental Health Center Shawnee

Working to close gaps in the county’s crisis continuum of care, the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners has accepted two grants from the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services to add over 20 positions and establish two new teams at Johnson County Mental Health Center. 

On Thursday, Feb. 22, the board authorized use of $1,480,750 in reserves for 2024 to establish a Youth Crisis Stabilization Center and $643,567 in reserves for 2024 to expand homeless outreach services in Johnson County. The new positions added for both teams will be funded through grants from KDADS. Following the initial grant funding, Medicaid revenue tied to JCMHC’s full certification as a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic will provide ongoing funding for the positions, programs and services. No county tax support is required to fund the new positions. 

“These added positions and new programs will help the county close significant gaps in care, provide mental health services to vulnerable populations and continue working toward a healthier and safer community,” said Johnson County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Mike Kelly. “I appreciate the hard work of the JCMHC team to secure grants and other revenue that will fund these important community enhancements.” 

Youth Crisis Stabilization Center 

Establishing a Youth Crisis Stabilization Center in Johnson County will help address one of the most significant gaps in care in the community by providing a place for young people to go when they experience a mental health crisis or emergency. 

Too often, youth in need of mental health services are directed toward detention with studies showing that 65-70% of minors in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental health condition. The Youth Crisis Stabilization Center will provide early intervention services and focus on treatment and rehabilitation as an alternative to detention. 

“This is an opportunity for us to provide access to immediate intervention and care for young people who need somewhere to go and someone to provide support,” said Tim DeWeese, Johnson County Mental Health Center’s director. “When we connect youth to treatment instead of detention and help them develop coping strategies and learn to regulate their emotions, we’re better able to prevent negative outcomes later in life.” 

The grant from KDADS to establish the program would include funding for 14.6 new positions, including a clinician, case manager, nurse, and admissions coordinator, as well as several behavioral health specialists to provide around-the-clock observation and supervision of youth receiving services. 

The 10-bed program will be housed at the former Youth and Family Services Center in Olathe. Johnson County Mental Health Center moved their Adolescent Center for Treatment to the building in August and announced intentions at the time to expand their services for youth in the rest of the building. 

Homeless Outreach Services 

As Johnson County sees a steady rise in the number of unhoused individuals in the community, the grant from KDADS will help Johnson County Mental Health Center expand its homeless outreach services to meet the increasing need. 

The new team’s six positions would include a homeless coordinator, a clinician, three case managers, and a peer support specialist to provide assessments, personalized care plans, therapy, other mental health supports, and assistance with basic needs for unhoused individuals in Johnson County. The KDADS grant also includes $25,000 to provide rent assistance for clients. 

Local data shows 56% of individuals contacted during the county’s 2023 point-in-time count reported mental health as a factor in their household, while 30% were fleeing domestic violence and 21% had a history of foster care—both of which significantly impact mental health. Experiencing homelessness can also create new challenges which exacerbate mental illness, such as anxiety, fear, depression, sleeplessness and substance use. 

“We currently have two staff members providing outreach to homeless individuals in our community, but this funding will allow us to expand to a full team to provide support as those individuals transition to permanent supported housing,” said DeWeese. 

JCMHC’s homeless outreach services are expanding at the same time the county continues work toward opening a homeless services center on 95th St. near Interstate 35. United Community Services of Johnson County is managing the process to identify an owner and operator for the center.

The expanded team will provide behavioral health support within the new center and out in the community.

Board of County Commissioners
Mental Health
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