DHS Contract Mgr Debra Ferguson, Ph.D.
Annual Grant $ (varies each grant year) $411,694 in FY10
Evaluator Name & Contact Info Sue Pickett, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
UIC Department of Psychiatry
Center for Mental Health Services Research & Policy
Annual Eval $ $78,362 in FY10
Funding Source SAMHSA/CMHS
Eval Period 09/30/08 - 09/29/2013

The State of Illinois was one of six states awarded the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Jail Diversion - Trauma Recovery (Priority to veterans) Grant. This grant, for approximately $2 million over 5 years has enabled the Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health (IDHS/DMH) to establish the Illinois Veterans Reintegration Initiative (VRI) to increase diversion for criminal justice-involved veterans with trauma histories in Cook and Rock Island counties. VRI will strengthen partnerships among justice agencies and service providers, expand diversion opportunities, and establish an infrastructure for intervention and service delivery that can be replicated across the State.

Project Summary for the Jail Diversion - Trauma Recovery (priority to veterans) Grant

Veterans in the criminal justice system with mental illnesses and combat-related trauma disorders represent a growing population with unique service needs. Critical barriers to successful reintegration for this population include lack of interface between veteran, justice, and treatment systems and lack of access to dedicated services such as mental health and substance abuse treatment, housing, and trauma-informed treatment. In Illinois, the paucity of military base communities amplifies the need for community and systems-level responses to support this population. The significant number of returning veterans to Illinois also underscores the importance of adapting current training and treatment strategies to meet the needs of returning soldiers and their families. Without these services, veterans with mental health disorders or co-morbid substance abuse may lack the supports necessary to achieve successful reintegration, and find themselves caught in a cycle of homelessness, hospitalization, and incarceration.

IDHS/DMH has taken a leadership role in developing significant statewide initiatives for justice-involved individuals with mental illness at every stage, including street-level intervention, jail diversion, correctional programming, and offender reentry. IDHS/DMH has been instrumental in developing integrated processes of identification, reentry linkage, and service delivery between the criminal justice, mental health and substance abuse networks, and recovery support services, such as housing and employment. These efforts have laid the groundwork for a more comprehensive and effective diversion approach based on leveraging existing successful intervention models, enhancement of capacity, and increased availability of clinically appropriate services.

The VRI is a collaborative effort of stakeholders, from both demonstration sites (Cook and Rock Island Counties) representing veterans, justice personnel, consumers and treatment providers. The VRI will result in the delivery of trauma-informed, evidence-based treatment to 120 consumers per year over a 5-year program period, as well as specialized training for 1,000 police officers in street-level responses to veterans demonstrating mental illness. IDHS/DMH believes the evaluation of the VRI will support the need for ongoing systems collaboration, and the belief that with appropriate supports, justice-involved veterans with mental illness can achieve successful community reintegration.

Evaluation Activities for the Jail Diversion - Trauma Recovery (priority to veterans) Grant

A team from the University of Illinois at Chicago's Center conducts the evaluation component of the VRI grant for Mental Health Research & Policy. This team, headed by Dr. Susan Pickett, is tasked with gathering and analyzing the project data and reporting findings to both the local partners and to SAMHSA.

In accordance with a SAMHSA requirement, no services under this grant could be provided until SAMHSA approved the Strategic Plan. Illinois was the first state to submit its Strategic Plan for review and to receive approval of that plan. SAMHSA has also implemented a new method for gathering and reporting Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) and NOMS data and training on this system is planned for August 2009. Once this training is completed, it is expected that services will begin in September 2009.