FAQs for Grantees

Terms of the Grant

Technical Assistance Opportunities

Online Resources and Other Information


Terms of the Grant

  1. When did the grant term begin? Did it begin when we received notification, when we began to draw down funds, or when the revised budget was approved?

The start date of the grant is indicated by the date included in the award notification document, where it can be found in box number 6.

However, some award letters include a special condition prohibiting you from spending any money pending an approval of your budget. You will then receive notification from the Bureau of Justice Assistance indicating that your budget has been approved.

  1. Do we have to file for an extension if our progress was delayed due to the necessity of submitting a budget revision? How do we file for an extension?

If you will not be able to complete the work described in your application within the time period provided, you should request a no cost extension. Project period extension requests are made by submitting a grant adjustment notice in the Grant Management System (GMS). You can access information on submitting grant adjustment notices through the OJP Financial Guide. Questions about GMS should be directed to the GMS Help Desk at GMS.HelpDesk@usdoj.gov or 800-458-0786 (TTY: 202-616-3867).

It is not unusual for grantees to request an extension but, before beginning this process, you should first contact your grant manager to explain the need for an extension. Your grant manager can also address any questions you have about the process.

  1. What are our reporting requirements under the grant?

Information on budget reporting requirements can be found on OJP's Funding Resource Center. This website provides a detailed explanation of reporting requirements under the links to the "Financial Guide" and "Post Award Instructions." As a JMHCP grantee, you will be required to submit performance measure data on a quarterly basis to the BJA Performance Measurement Tool (PMT). Before the first reporting deadline, we will conduct trainings to walk you through the PMT. In addition, you must also file progress reports to BJA twice a year through OJP's Grants Management System. These reports should collect the information requested in the solicitation materials, and identified as "Data Grantee Provides" in objectives 1-6. You should describe the level of success you have had around these objectives and your activities to date. The Post Award Instructions document also contains a list of frequently asked questions about these reporting requirements that may be helpful to you.

If you are a planning and implementation grantee (category II), you will also be required to submit a copy of a completed planning and implementation guide, which we will tell you about in your grantee orientation webinar.

Technical Assistance Opportunities

  1. Who can we call with questions or requests for assistance regarding the work of our grant?

The Council of State Governments Justice Center can support your grant activities with information, resource materials, and answers to your questions during the term of your grant. The CSG Justice Center has great expertise on staff, has authored numerous publications, and is well-positioned to connect you with other sources of information and assistance. The staff can also help connect you with colleagues so you can benefit from their experiences. If you have any questions, contact the Justice Center staff person assigned to your project.

The CSG Justice Center also coordinates its work closely with the GAINS Center for Behavioral Health and Justice Transformation, which provides technical assistance to recipients of several of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health and Services Administration’s grant programs.

  1. Will representatives of the Council of State Governments Justice Center be visiting our site?

The Council of State Governments Justice Center may be able to provide on-site technical assistance to grantees. You can discuss this with the Justice Center staff member assigned to your project as you develop a technical assistance plan.

Online Resources and Other Information

General Planning

  1. How can we learn more about different strategies for improving outcomes when people with mental illnesses come in contact with the criminal justice system?

At each juncture of the criminal justice process—from before arrest to after release from a correctional facility—there are steps that you can take to improve the response to people with mental illnesses in your community. The Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project Report (Consensus Project Report) provides more than 100 recommendations, endorsed by law enforcement, judges, advocates, consumers, and corrections officials, for addressing the problem at different stages of the criminal justice process. The many different points of intervention you can consider are presented on the flowchart of events along the criminal justice continuum on page 24 of the Consensus Project Report.

  1. How can we engage additional partners in our planning effort?

One common denominator among all strategies that provide a response to this problem is a commitment to collaboration between at least one criminal justice and one mental health agency. Chapter Five of The Consensus Project Report provides recommendations for improving collaboration. The Justice Center's Advocacy Handbook provides useful strategies for reaching out to different stakeholder agencies and groups.

  1. How can we learn from the experiences of other jurisdictions, especially other communities whose demographics (e.g., large urban area or rural jurisdiction) are similar to ours?

Communities working to improve outcomes for people with mental illnesses in contact with the criminal justice system can benefit greatly from a better understanding of the experiences of colleagues from across the country. The Justice Center regularly features profiles and news articles about JMHCP grantees and other criminal justice and behavioral health programs—you may subscribe to receive updates. Additionally, the National Criminal Justice Initiatives Map provides information about recipients of federal funding related to reentry and recidivism reduction across the country.

  1. How can we ensure that the program we develop is sustainable over time?

It is important to collect outcome data and educate your community about the availability of services for people with mental illness coming into contact with the criminal justice system in order to plans successfully for future sustainability. Chapter Eight of The Consensus Project Report provides recommendations for disseminating findings and publicizing the successes of a program.

Mental Health Court programs will find A Guide to Collecting Mental Health Court Outcome Data a helpful resource for planning their data collection.

Mental Health Services and Supports

  1. How do we familiarize people who work in the criminal justice system with what it means to have a mental illness, how it is treated, and how the mental health system works?

The Justice Center and BJA publication Navigating the Mental Health Maze provides a useful synopsis of mental illnesses and the mental health system for criminal justice professionals.

  1. Are there any other specialized training resources available for our community?

Chapter Six of The Consensus Project Report provides recommendations on training for law enforcement, courts, corrections, and mental health professionals as well as strategies for identifying and evaluating trainers and educating the community.

For grantees focusing on law enforcement/mental health collaborations, the Justice Center, in partnership with the Police Executive Research Forum and with support from BJA, released Improving the Response to People with Mental Illnesses: Strategies for Effective Law Enforcement Training, a report that outlines strategies for specialized law enforcement training. 

  1. How do we determine whether the mental health services provided in our community are effective for people we are targeting through our initiative?

Programs designed to improve outcomes for people with mental illnesses in contact with the criminal justice system require effective community mental health treatments and supports. Recent research has identified mental health services that have demonstrated positive outcomes for individuals with mental illness. The GAINS Center has developed fact sheets and detailed discussion papers on evidence-based practices and how they can be applied in criminal justice settings.

  1. What is the most effective way to treat people with mental illnesses and co-occurring substance use disorders?

Co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders are common among individuals targeted in criminal justice-mental health programs. The CSG Justice Center report Adults with Behavioral Health Needs under Correctional Supervision: A Shared Framework for Reducing Recidivism and Promoting Recovery introduces a framework that can be used at the corrections and behavioral health systems level to prioritize scarce resources based on objective assessments of individuals’ risk of committing a future crime and their mental health and substance abuse treatment and support needs.

Juveniles

  1. How can we learn more about the challenges unique to serving juveniles with mental illnesses?

Communities that focus their efforts on the juvenile population will encounter challenges unique to this age group. The National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice (NCMHJJ) offers a number of resources, including training resources and guides for screening and assessing juveniles admitted to a detention facility for mental illnesses.

  1. What issues are unique to a mental health court for juveniles?

Juvenile and adult mental health courts share some common features, but differ in several important ways, including the types of screening instruments and treatments used, approaches taken to issues of confidentiality, and the added component of family involvement in the criminal justice process. The NCMHJJ has developed a series of resources on juvenile mental health courts.  

  1. How can I learn more about reentry initiatives for juveniles?

The Justice Center launched the National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC)—an unprecedented initiative to advance the safe and successful return of individuals from prisons and jails to their local communities. For more information on juveniles and reentry, see the NRRC’s juvenile reentry webpage and Core Principles for Reducing Recidivism and Improving Other Outcomes for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System, a white paper promoting what works to support successful reentry for youth who are under juvenile justice system supervision.

Law Enforcement

  1. How can we learn more about what we need to do to effectively plan and implement a specialized police response program?

The Justice Center released Improving Responses to People with Mental Illnesses: The Essential Elements of a Specialized Law Enforcement-Based Programreport that articulates 10 essential elements derived from recommendations made by a broad range of practitioners and other related experts. They provide practitioners and policymakers with a common framework for program design and implementation that will promote positive outcomes while being sensitive to every jurisdiction’s distinct needs and resources.

  1. What types of strategies have communities implemented to improve outcomes of police responses to people with mental illnesses?

Various models of specialized police responses to people with mental illnesses are emerging in communities across the country. Some police departments intensively train a cadre of officers who provide a first response to all calls in which mental illness is believed to be a factor and improve safety by using crisis de-escalation skills. Others pair law enforcement and mental health professionals to provide a second response and connect these individuals with community-based mental health services more effectively.

Two resources explore the similarities and differences among these program models. The TAPA Center for Jail Diversion monograph A Guide to Implementing Police-Based Diversion Programs for People with Mental Illness, describes these program models, identifies common program characteristics, details implementation steps, and offers lessons learned. Chapter Two of The Consensus Project Report looks generally at each of the different steps of a police encounter with a person with mental illness and offers recommendations for adapting the particular approach to your community: request for police serviceon-scene assessmenton-scene responseincident documentation, and police response evaluation.

  1. What resources can we draw on as we develop our curriculum guidelines and training program?

This Justice Center, in partnership with PERF and with support from BJA, is developing a series of resources for law enforcement practitioners and their community partners as part of BJA’s Law Enforcement/Mental Health Partnership Program. The Essential Elements (discussed above) serves as the centerpiece of this series. The Improving Responses to People with Mental Illnesses series includes a collection of resources that will complement the essential elements: a practical handbook on implementing effective training strategies; a monograph on tailoring law enforcement responses to the unique needs of the jurisdiction, which will include specific examples from the field; and Web-based information on statewide efforts to coordinate these law enforcement responses.  

Courts

  1. What resources are available to help our community plan a mental health court or improve/expand upon an existing mental health court?

Developing a Mental Health Court: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum is a free online multimedia curriculum for individuals and teams seeking to start, maintain, or just learn about mental health courts. Developed by the Justice Center with the support of the Bureau of Justice Assistance, it is the first single resource with the information teams need to translate current research on mental health courts into program design and operation.

The Guide to Mental Health Court Design and Implementation describes different steps planners will encounter when launching a mental health court and addresses issues such as determining whether a mental health court is the most appropriate court-based program for a jurisdiction, selecting a screening mechanism for potential court participants, and sustaining a court's operation. The Essential Elements of a Mental Health Court builds upon the Guide by describing ten features—identified by leading experts and informed by hundreds of practitioners—as critical to establishing and sustaining a mental health court.

  1. What lessons can we learn from established mental health courts?

To facilitate peer-to-peer assistance among mental health courts, the Bureau of Justice Assistance has established a network of four designated mental health court "learning sites": Bonneville County (ID) Mental Health Court; Dougherty County (GA) Superior Court Mental Health and Substance Abuse Division; New York (NY) EAC’s Mental Health Diversion Program; and Ramsey County (MN) Mental Health Court. These sites represent a diversity of regions, populations, perspectives, and court models. These courts have opened their doors to assisting other jurisdictions through conversations and site visits. To learn more about the Mental Health Court Learning Sites Program coordinated by the Council of State Governments Justice Center, contact Sarah Wurzburg at swurzburg@csg.org. The Justice Center has also published Mental Health Courts: A Guide to Research-Informed Policy and Practice, which adapts available research and experience from the field on mental health court design, function, and outcomes. The Guide features discussions of a number of practical issues confronting the field, including issues of competency and target population changes for mental health courts.

  1. How should we go about collecting data to determine how our mental health court is functioning?

Outcome data can be of enormous value to mental health courts in their efforts to demonstrate the initial promise of their approach and garner long-term support as well as make data-driven program modifications. A Guide to Collecting Mental Health Court Outcome Data provides practical strategies for obtaining and analyzing data. It also identifies challenges that mental health courts often face during the data collection process and ways in which to overcome them.

  1. What issues are unique to a mental health court for juveniles?

See Question 15 above.

Corrections

  1. We are working to improve collaboration between our corrections and mental health systems. How can administrators and their staff working in each system get on the same page about ways in which their collaboration can be strengthened?

The National Institute of Corrections (NIC), a component of the U.S. Department of Justice, together with the Council of State Governments Justice Center has developed a tool to help criminal justice and mental health organizations assess their existing level of collaboration.

  1. What lessons can be learned from other states and counties where collaboration between the corrections and mental health systems has improved?

As part of its technical assistance work in this area, the Council of State Governments Justice Center has developed detailed case studies of corrections/mental health collaboration in several jurisdictions. One case study describes what leaders of the Departments of Corrections and the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services in Kansas have done together to improve the likelihood of safe and successful transitions from prison to the community for individuals with mental illness. The Orange County, Florida case study describes the experiences of county jail staff and community providers collaborating to design post-booking diversion options.

  1. How can we be sure that we're accurately identifying individuals with mental illnesses entering our jail or prison?

The National Institute of Justice has funded two groups to develop screening instruments for jails. Both instruments have psychometric properties, with low rates of false positives and false negatives that allow for the detection of individuals who warrant additional assessment for mental illnesses. The Brief Jail Mental Health Screen, developed by Policy Research Associates, can be used as a screening instrument for both men and women. The Correctional Mental Health Screen, developed by researchers at the University of Connecticut, provides separate instruments for men and women.

  1. How do we determine whether the services we offer individuals with mental illnesses re-entering the community are effective?

The GAINS Center has developed fact sheets and detailed discussion papers on six evidence-based practices and how they can be applied in criminal justice settings. Three of the evidence-based practices are particularly relevant for individuals transitioning from jail or prison into the community: Assertive Community Treatment, evidence-based housing programs, and supported employment.

  1. Are any resources available that recognize the challenges associated with transition planning for someone with a mental illness who is booked into jail and released back into the community just a few short days later?

The GAINS Center’s Guidelines for the Successful Transition of People with Behavioral Health Disorders from Jail and Prison promotes the criminal justice partnerships that are necessary to develop successful approaches for identifying individuals in need of services, determining what services those individuals need, and addressing these needs during transition from incarceration to community-based treatment and supervision. The guidelines incorporate the principles outlined in Adults with Behavioral Health Needs under Correctional Supervision: A Shared Framework for Reducing Recidivism and Promoting Recovery; A Best Practice Approach to Community Reentry from Jail for Inmates with Co-occurring Disorders: The APIC Model; and evidence-based practices and programs (many of which can be found in the What Works in Reentry Clearinghouse).

In addition, the Justice Center, National Association of Counties, and the American Psychiatric Foundation have come together to lead the Stepping Up Initiative, a national effort to help advance counties’ efforts to reduce the number of adults with mental and co-occurring substance use disorders in jails. By signing up for the initiative, you will receive notification about learning opportunities, peer-to-peer exchanges, expert guidance, a toolkit of resources, and other assistance to facilitate planning and implementation. To learn more, visit the Stepping Up website.