Apply Now to Join the Aligning Health and Safety: State Policy Community of Practice

May 11, 2022

********This application deadline has passed********


The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center will host a four-session virtual Community of Practice (CoP) focused on the state’s role in supporting local efforts to reduce the number of people with behavioral health needs in the criminal justice system. State-level actions can help establish the building blocks for initiating or advancing this work, including collaboration structures, cross-system data collection and information sharing, and dedicated funding to strengthen care and supports. The State Policy CoP will bring together cross-system teams of high-level policy staff responsible for implementing complex, collaborative cross-systems efforts at the state level. The CoP will provide them with the frameworks, peer learning, and intensive one-to-one technical assistance to strengthen state policy infrastructure that is necessary for robust statewide efforts to improve outcomes for people with behavioral health needs and reduce overreliance on law enforcement, hospitals, and jails.


  • Thursday, June 23, 2022
  • Thursday, July 21, 2022
  • Thursday, August 18, 2022
  • Thursday, September 8, 2022

All sessions will take place 1:00–2:30 p.m. ET via Zoom web meeting.

Jurisdictions that are interested in participating should submit this application by Friday, June 10, 2022. A CSG Justice Center staff member will follow up with you by June 15, 2022.

If you have any questions, contact Katie Holihen at

Who should apply?

The State Policy CoP is open to teams led or convened through the judiciary, legislature, executive branch, and state agencies—or, ideally, a combination. Teams should consist of a cross-system group of policymakers and staff working at the state level to reduce criminal justice system contact for people with behavioral health needs. The CoP is also open to teams that do not yet have a cross-system, behavioral health-criminal justice state policy effort underway but are committed to laying the foundation for effective state policymaking in this area. Team leads may include policy staff from state behavioral health agencies, criminal justice policy advisors in governors’ offices, members and staff of existing cross-system collaborative bodies, and/or staff from state courts.

Who should participate?

To be eligible for participation, each team must include (1) a team lead who is a policy staffer working at the intersection of behavioral health and criminal justice from one of the three branches of state government—e.g., high-level staff from state behavioral health agencies, existing state-level collaborative bodies, state courts, or criminal justice policy advisors in governors’ offices; (2) a representative from the criminal justice system, such as someone from the department of corrections, state courts, a state agency dedicated to improving the administration of criminal justice, or a statewide network representing local criminal justice actors; and (3) a representative from the behavioral health system, including someone from a state health or behavioral health agency, the agency tasked with administering Medicaid, or a private-sector or nonprofit behavioral health partner. Priority will be given to teams that are expansively cross-system (i.e., include criminal justice, behavioral health, and housing partners) and state-local (i.e., include county-level leadership to provide a needed local perspective). We also strongly encourage participation from state associations of counties as part of this team. Teams should consist of a minimum of four and a maximum of six team members committed to actively participating in each session.

What will the sessions cover?

Session 1 will introduce the Community of Practice goals and expectations and foster connections among participating teams. This session will introduce the concept of locally driven state policymaking and the foundations of robust state action in support of local efforts to reduce the number of people with behavioral health needs in the criminal justice system. The State Policy CoP will walk participants through the “foundations” of effective cross-system state work at this intersection—collaboration, data collection and information sharing, and funding. Teams will be the first to see a new web tool for the field on these foundations, the Aligning Health and Safety: State Policy Tool. This session will focus on the first of these foundational areas where state action can make a difference: collaboration. Teams will learn state policy strategies to strengthen and formalize cross-system collaboration and hear state examples of effective and sustained collaborative infrastructure.


Session 2 will focus on the second foundational area, the state’s role in alleviating persistent barriers locals face with data collection and information sharing. Teams will be introduced to key state policy strategies to improve local capacity to collect, use, and share data, including discussion of common definitions, screening and assessment, and privacy law. This section will be highly interactive, and teams will have the opportunity to discuss their efforts to date to encourage cross-system data sharing as well as opportunities for state action.


Session 3 is dedicated to exploring state policy strategies to help local communities address persistent funding gaps and align funding streams and reporting requirements to be more responsive to community needs. Communities will share efforts to date to align funding, and subject matter experts from the Center for Health Care Strategies will provide tailored coaching on federal funding sources, including Medicaid. This section concludes the in-depth coverage of the “foundations” of state policymaking to align public health and public safety: collaboration, data collection and information sharing, and funding.


Session 4 will conclude the Community of Practice with a deep dive into a key issue at the intersection of behavioral health and criminal justice where state action is needed—such as housing, workforce, or competency to stand trial—identified by the teams themselves. In the application process, teams will choose from a selection of high-priority state policy areas, and the CSG Justice Center will bring national experts to the table to coach teams through developing winning state responses to complex, cross-system challenges.

Photo by GaudiLab via Shutterstock.

About the author

Katie Holihen 2022
Senior Policy Analyst, Behavioral Health
Katie Holihen works to advance locally driven state policymaking at the intersection of criminal justice, behavioral health, and housing. Prior to joining the CSG Justice Center, Katie was a grant analyst at the Cook County Public Defender’s Office in Chicago,
where she worked with cross-sector partners to launch holistic defense and data analytics programs. She also led curriculum development for national law enforcement training initiatives in procedural justice and cultural humility at the Center for Public Safety and Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Katie has a BA in history and political science from Marquette University and an MSW from Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
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