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.

Funding Breakdown 

Name Total Amount Description Administering Agencies Eligible Entities Distribution Mechanisms

 

End Date
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

(CCBHCs)

$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 an additional $350 billion in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds for communities to address local fiscal priorities in response to the pandemic. The ARP provides an additional $350 billion in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds for communities to address local fiscal priorities in response to the pandemic. Additional Treasury guidance specifically allows these funds to be used for a wide range of behavioral health investments, including providing behavioral health services and hotlines and expanding crisis intervention programs. It also includes premium pay for essential workers, including social services workers. In addition, state, local and tribal governments can request recovery funds directly through the Treasury’s website.

Key Takeaways

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. 

Other Resources

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About the Author


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Alex Blandford
Program Director, Behavioral Health
Alex Blandford oversees and executes the CSG Justice Center's health policy portfolio and works to improve access to health care for people in the criminal justice system through federal, state, and local policy. Prior to joining the CSG Justice Center,
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Alex was a project coordinator for the Institute for Evaluation Science in Community Health, which is housed in the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh. As a project coordinator, she oversaw a variety of research projects, including one examining the Pittsburgh region’s emergency response to mental health crises, and another evaluating the region’s Crisis Intervention Team training for police officers. She earned her BS in psychology and BA in French from the Pennsylvania State University and her MPH at the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh.
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