crisis solutions center: Frequently asked questIons

1) What is the purpose of the Crisis Solutions Center?
2) Are there other programs like the Crisis Solutions Center elsewhere and how have they worked?
3) Who is served by the Crisis Solutions Center?
4) Will these people pose a danger to the community?
5) Are there safeguards at the Crisis Solutions Center to protect the community?
6) What types of services and/or treatment occur at the Crisis Solutions Center?
7) Who cannot be admitted to the Crisis Solutions Center?
8) Is the facility locked?
9) Are participants free to come and go into the surrounding neighborhood?
10) What is the process for arrival/admission to the program?
11) Is there a sign on the building saying Crisis Solutions Center?
12) Are people able to walk in?
13) What happens when participants are discharged from the program?
14) What about unplanned departures from the program?
15) Are participants in the longer-term program accompanied in the neighborhood at all times?
16) Are there aspects of the physical facility design that protect the neighborhood?
17) Will the building become a haven for drug dealing?
18) What impact will police, ambulance and program staff vehicle traffic to and from the facility have on the neighborhood?
19) Do you have security personnel on-site?
20) How can neighbors give continued input to ensure the facility design and program operations do not present safety risks?
21) What is the Advisory Committee and what is its role? Who are the members and how were they chosen?

1) What is the purpose of the Crisis Solutions Center?
The Crisis Solutions Center (CSC) provides a new resource for police, medics, crisis mental health professionals, and other first responders to use for individuals who are in crisis and might otherwise receive no help, or be taken to jail or a hospital emergency department. The goal of the CSC is to reduce chronic homelessness and unnecessary involvement in the criminal justice and emergency medical systems. top

2) Are there other programs like the Crisis Solutions Center elsewhere and how have they worked?
Facilities similar to the CSC are already successfully operating in Pierce, Spokane, Whatcom, Yakima, Skagit, and Thurston counties in Washington State. Numerous similar programs across the country have operated for years and demonstrated savings to the community by reducing hospitalizations and jail use, all with no incidents of violence in the community. Many of these programs have fewer staff per person served than the CSC will have. top

3) Who is served by the Crisis Solutions Center?
The CSC will serve adults experiencing a crisis due to emotional, mental, or substance use disorders, and who can benefit from the services provided. Examples include individuals who have suicidal thoughts and people who commit minor, non-violent crimes due to their mental illness or substance use. In order to be admitted, individuals must agree to accept the services of the program and be willing and able to adhere to the rules of the program.

The Crisis Solutions Center is not intended as a replacement for people who require jail or hospitalization for their own safety or for the safety of or others.
The program is intended to serve men and women who are in crisis due to mental or addictive illnesses and who are currently being sent to jails or hospitals because more appropriate, therapeutic options do not exist. top

4) Will these people pose a danger to the community?
It is also important to recognize that people with mental illness are not more violent and dangerous than anyone else in our society. We should be careful not to stigmatize mental illness. One out of four Americans suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder in the course of a given year. One out of twenty Americans suffers from a severe mental disorder in a given year. The people who will be admitted to the facility are your fellow citizens and neighbors and relatives and friends. Finally, while it is impossible to give absolute assurance that no act of violence will ever occur in our community, we know that the risk of such acts occurring can be significantly reduced by providing appropriate treatment. In addition, we have the experience of many similar crisis triage centers that have operated for many years with no incidents of danger to the community. top

5) Are there safeguards at the Crisis Solutions Center to protect the community?
There will be many safeguards in place to protect the community. People who are currently out of control or violent, or who have known histories of violence, will not be allowed admission to the CSC. Policies, procedures, and building security features, such as delays and alarms on doors, will be in place to assure that no one will be able to leave the facility without staff escort. top

6) What types of services and/or treatment occur at the Crisis Solutions Center?
Services provided on-site will include mental health and chemical dependency assessment and treatment such as individual and group counseling and medication therapy. Services will also include referrals and linkage to ongoing community services and housing options. top

7) Who cannot be admitted to the Crisis Solutions Center?
People who have committed a current violent offense or who have a known violent criminal history, including committing a domestic violence offense, will not be referred to or accepted into the program. top

8) Is the facility locked?
The Crisis Solutions Center is a voluntary program. It is not a jail and it will not be locked. However, all doors will have a time delay to open and if someone attempts to leave, an alarm inside the building will be triggered and staff will immediately respond. See answer #14 below for more on what happens when a program participant leaves against medical advice. top

9) Are participants free to come and go into the surrounding neighborhood?
No. Simply put, at no time will participants be unattended by staff in the neighborhood surrounding the Crisis Solutions Center. top

10) What is the process for arrival/admission to the program?
Referrals: The program will receive referrals from any police officer in King County, Medic One Units, County Designated Mental Health Professionals, and hospital emergency room staff. DESC will have signed agreements with these first responders regarding referral expectations, including eligibility, drop-offs and pick-ups.
Arrival: All participants will arrive under the escort of a police officer, DESC Mobile Crisis Team staff, Medic One or ambulance staff, or King County Designated Mental Health Professionals. Arriving vehicles will not use sirens or flashing lights. Referred participants will be received by intake staff of the Crisis Diversion Facility (16 bed, 72 hour program).
Screening: Prior to referral, all potential participants will be screened for violence potential and criminal conviction history in order to rule out individuals with current criminal charges that are not eligible for diversion to the CSC, assaultive backgrounds and other violent behaviors. Medical conditions exceeding the service capacity of the Crisis Solutions Center will be directed to an emergency room. top

11) Is there a sign on the building saying: Crisis Solutions Center?
No. The location of the Crisis Solutions Center is not advertised and the building itself have no signs indicating its purpose. top

12) Will people be able to walk in?
No. The CSC does not accept self-referrals. All admissions must be pre-screened by referral partners and approved by Crisis Solutions Center personnel. top

13) What happens when participants are discharged from the program?
All Crisis Solutions Center participants will be escorted from the facility by DESC staff, police, or ambulance and returned to their home, the community from which they came, new housing, a shelter for homeless persons, hospital or another acceptable destination. No participants will be discharged without a pre-arranged destination and transportation to the destination. top

14) What about unplanned departures from the program?
Crisis Solutions Center staff will be alerted by an alarm system if a participant decides to leave the facility against medical advice. The alarm will sound when a person tries to open a perimeter door without use of a security card. The security system (including door delays and closed circuit television cameras) will allow staff enough time to respond before the participant can exit the building. Staff will immediately intervene by attempting to persuade the participant to remain in the facility.

If a participant who is in the program tries to walk away from the facility, two DESC staff members will accompany the person to monitor his or her behavior and continue efforts to persuade him or her to return to the facility or accept a ride to his or her next destination. Police will be called immediately if the participant is perceived to be a threat to others or property, or if the person was brought to the facility by police after having committed a chargeable offense. DESC staff will accompany the person until either the police respond and detain the person or he/she has left the neighborhood. The staff members following the person will maintain constant communication with staff at the facility. top

15) Will participants in the longer-term program also be accompanied in the neighborhood at all times?
One aspect of the Crisis Solutions Center is a two-week program known as Crisis Diversion Interim Services for homeless people who have completed the Crisis Diversion Facility. People served by the Crisis Diversion Interim Services program (30 beds) will stay for up to 14 days. This is considered an unreasonable length of time for people to be continuously kept indoors. There will be occasions when staff will need to take participants to appointments or outside to get some fresh air and exercise. During these occasions, participants will always be accompanied by staff. Not all participants will be eligible for such outings - only those deemed stable enough to remain appropriate outside of the Crisis Solutions Center facility. top

16) Are there aspects of the physical facility design that protect the neighborhood?
Yes. The building is specifically designed to ensure that unauthorized entries and exits cannot occur. Entry to the facility will be controlled by staff at all times. Exits, required by fire code, will be monitored at all times by electronic control devices and staff (see "unauthorized departures" above). The entry door enters into a controlled vestibule from which only authorized persons may access the common program space beyond. Those in the program space wishing to exit must pass through two alarmed doors, from the program space to the vestibule and the vestibule to the exterior of the building.

An added neighborhood safeguard is that staff will be monitoring activity around the building with full-coverage closed circuit television cameras, large windows and 24/7 presence in and around the building.

Finally, the facility completed a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) review. CPTED is a formal program of the Seattle Police Department, administered in partnership with the Seattle Neighbor Group, to analyze physical design features and make recommendations that suppress criminal activity. top

17) Will the building become a haven for drug dealing?
No. DESC does not tolerate dealing activity in or around our programs. DESC has Facility Expectations which specifies prohibited behavior in and outside the building. We share these expectations with each participant as part of the intake process. Violations of these rules prompt appropriate interventions and can lead to discharge from the program. top

18) What impact will police, ambulance and program staff vehicle traffic to and from the facility have on the neighborhood?
Participant drop-offs will occur in a discreet off-street driveway. The entrance where police and Medic One will arrive is an existing off-street driveway, which is enclosed with a fence. First responder vehicles arriving with referred participants will not use lights or sirens, because they will be non-emergent transports. We anticipate 5 to 10 first responder or DESC Mobile Crisis Team vehicle arrivals/departures each day.

Program staff and service partners will use a large parking lot behind the building. The presence of these staff in the neighborhood will help promote the economic vitality of the neighborhood, as they frequent local restaurants and other retail businesses. top

19) Do you have security personnel on-site?
Yes. The Crisis Solutions Center will have high staff-to-participant ratios 24/7. Minimum daytime staffing will be 18 employees during business hours and 13 employees overnight. This allows for staff to participant ratios of 1:3 during the day; and 1:4 overnight.

All program staff will be trained in behavior management and other safety techniques. Security functions are fully integrated into program operations, rather than the task of one specific person. DESC staff will enforce program rules which prohibit participants from leaving the program un-escorted. Staff will continuously monitor security cameras throughout the interior and exterior of the building.

Unlike many other property managers, DESC makes responding to neighbors' concerns a top priority. Neighbors are encouraged to call at any time to request a staff person respond to an issue involving a participant's behavior in the neighborhood. Staff are prepared to respond immediately whenever possible to help; if the person in question is not a participant of the Crisis Solutions Center, our staff will still try to help them get whatever resources they may need. top

20) How can neighbors give continued input to ensure the facility design and program operations do not present safety riss?
DESC has a long history of siting projects, and often, neighbors raise concern when we first announce a location. We find that after opening, neighbors appreciate DESC's attentive approach to both how we operate our programs, and how we respond to neighborhood concerns. Our goal is to develop and maintain a safe and successful project, and we strongly value community input in that process.

DESC worked with key stakeholders on creating a Good Neighbor Agreement and the establishment of an ongoing Advisory Committee. We want to hear directly from people who have concerns, and work collaboratively to address these concerns. We commit to implementing measures to address those concerns, where possible, as long as they do not undermine the primary goals of the program.

In addition to the Good Neighbor Agreement process, we welcome other suggestions for neighborhood input. DESC is committed to being a good neighbor, because it serves our clients and the broader neighborhood to be transparent and responsive to neighbors' concerns. We have been very active in all neighborhoods where we have programs. DESC's policy is to integrate into the surrounding community. The Crisis Solutions Center will be staffed 24 hours a day. Additionally, all of our program managers participate in the relevant community councils; and this will also be the case with the Crisis Solutions Center. top

21) What is the Advisory Committee and what is its role? Who are the members and how were they chosen?
The Neighborhood Advisory Committee helped to create the Good Neighbor Agreement, and provide ongoing input and advice to DESC on the implementation of the agreement and the impact of the program on the neighborhood. DESC worked with neighborhood groups to develop a list of key stakeholder groups to form an advisory committee that represents the diverse interests of the community. The Crisis Solutions Center Neighborhood Advisory Committee (NAC) works in partnership with DESC and Jackson Place neighborhood to create communication channels for upholding the Good Neighbor Agreement and to maintain a tolerant and welcoming neighborhood for everyone. top

 

For more information about DESC's Crisis Solutions Center here. We welcome any questions you may have about this program. Please contact Nicole Macri, DESC's Administrative Director, at 206-515-1514.

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