Reduce criminal justice involvement for people with behavioral health needs
Updated June 15, 2021
Many communities are calling for new approaches to public health and safety. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) provides more than $2 billion to incentivize states and localities to invest in community crisis systems and other diversion opportunities that can improve access to treatment, ultimately reducing arrests and incarceration for people with behavioral health needs.
|Name||Total Amount||Description||Administering Agencies||Eligible Entities||Distribution Mechanisms
|State option to provide qualifying community-based mobile crisis intervention services||85% federal matching under federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP)||Implement and expand mobile crisis intervention teams to connect people to behavioral health services||Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)||State Medicaid agency
|Federal match. States will need to submit proposals that will be subject to approval||2027|
|Funding For State Planning Grants
|$15 million||Plan for and submit state plan amendments or applications to pursue waiver authorities to expand mobile crisis intervention services coverage.
|HHS||State Medicaid agency||States will need to submit proposals that will be subject to approval.||Available until expended|
|Temporary increase in FMAP for medical assistance under state Medicaid plans which begin to expend amounts for certain mandatory individuals
|90% federal match (FMAP) for newly covered and 5% for all other Medicaid populations for 2 years||Incentivize states to increase Medicaid coverage||HHS||State Medicaid agency; executive branch or legislature||States need to apply and change their state plans.||2 years|
|Funding for expansion grants for certified community behavioral health clinics||$420 million||Expand access to crisis response services through Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs)||HHS||Community organizations that meet the criteria to be CCBHCs||Grants||Available until expended|
|Community Mental Health Services Block Grant
|$1.5 billion||Expand comprehensive community mental health services for adults and children with serious mental illness or emotional disturbances, such as screenings, outpatient services, emergency mental health treatment, and day treatment programs.||HHS||State and nonprofit mental and behavioral health agencies||Block grants. Award amounts by state/ territory available via the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)||September 30, 2025|
|Funding for Community-Based Funding For Local Behavioral Health Needs||$50 million||Provide mental and behavioral health training, increase telehealth services, and expand mental and behavioral health preventive and crisis intervention services.||HHS||State and local governments, community nonprofits, and health organizations||Grants||Available until expended|
The ARP provides for an additional $350 billion in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds for communities to address local fiscal priorities in response to the pandemic. Learn more about how to use these funds to advance safety and justice goals in our guide. State, local, and tribal governments can request recovery funds directly through the Treasury’s website.
1. Invest in cross-system behavioral health diversion strategies: Community leaders can use ARP resources to develop a system-wide strategy for behavioral health diversion interventions to reduce unnecessary contact with the criminal justice system. To have the greatest impact, communities should invest in a comprehensive, coordinated behavioral health diversion strategy that includes a continuum of diversion programs and practices at every point in the criminal justice system and fully leverages the community’s resources.
2. Implement best practices for crisis and community intervention response: ARP funding can be used to help communities move beyond discrete crisis services to comprehensive, coordinated systems that include a continuum of crisis responses. Informed by community crisis data and led by a diverse group of community stakeholders, crisis systems help prevent unnecessary contact with law enforcement, connect people with effective crisis services, and facilitate connections to longer-term care and services.
3. Ensure responses are locally driven: ARP funding can be used to complement existing resources, allowing local leaders to retain the flexibility to build crisis and diversion systems that are most responsive to local needs. By tailoring these systems to their own unique needs and available community resources, localities can increase access to services, decrease recidivism, and increase public safety.
- Taking the Call: A National Conference Exploring Innovative Community Responder Models
- Explores how jurisdictions are serving as laboratories for innovation to ensure that emergency calls receive the appropriate response.
- Building a Comprehensive and Coordinated Crisis System
- Offers guidance for building crisis systems that address local needs
- How to Successfully Implement a Mobile Crisis Team
- Provides tips to ensure the success of mobile crisis teams
- 4 Tips to Successfully Open a Crisis Stabilization Unit
- Offers recommendations for establishing an effective crisis stabilization unit
- Behavioral Health Diversion Interventions: Moving from Individual Programs to a Systems-Wide Strategy
- Describes key components to developing a systems-wide diversion strategy
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