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Welcome to the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disabilities Services

Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services

Clinical Unit

The BHJD Clinical Unit manages programs that serve individuals on the “back-end” of the criminal justice system including support while in custodial settings, re-entry, and community corrections supervision.

The programs within the Clinical Unit of BHJD include the Forensic Support Team (FST), the Norristown State Hospital (NSH) Re-entry Team, Department of Corrections (DOC) Re-entry Team, Alternatives to Detention (ATD) Re-entry, and ATD Adult Probation and Parole Department (APPD). The FST conducts assessment and treatment planning for individuals in the jail and at the state hospital and focuses on issues related to the Forensic Waitlist and Competency to Stand Trial. The NSH Re-entry Team supports individuals returning to the community from NSH, connecting them to treatment and resources. The DOC Re-entry Team works with individuals on the C and D Rosters at the DOC, providing re-entry planning and peer support to individuals returning from State Prison. The ATD Re-entry Team works with individuals with SMI detained at the Philadelphia Department of Prisons, developing re-entry plans to meet their needs. The ATD APPD Team works with individuals under probation and parole supervision through APPD, providing a wide range of supports and connections to social services.

In addition to program management, the Clinical Unit also provides clinical consultation for program development for the justice-involved population. The unit also oversees internship and training opportunities within BHJD, including a Post-Doctoral Psychology Residency program, rotations for the DBHIDS Psychiatry Fellowship placement, and bachelor’s and master’s level internship placements.

Forensic Support Team (FST)

DBHIDS implemented a Forensic Support Team (FST) to assist individuals on the Forensic Waitlist at the Philadelphia Department of Prisons (PDP) as they transition from jail to the state hospital or a less restrictive setting while under the court’s jurisdiction. Comprised of clinicians and peer specialists, this team targets pre-trial individuals who have been found Incompetent to Stand Trial (IST) and who are waiting in jail for admission to NSH. The FST also supports individuals who are in NSH but cannot be restored to competency. Partnering with the NSH Re-entry team, the FST conducts assessments to facilitate discharge planning and community placement. This program has been operational since January 2016.

Norristown State Hospital (NSH) Re-Entry

The NSH Re-Entry Team provides ongoing support for individuals re-entering the community from Norristown State Hospital (NSH) and/or the Philadelphia Department of Prisons (PDP). The NSH Re-Entry Team works in tandem with the larger system to help with connecting individuals to the most appropriate community services by assisting with release planning, continuity of care, and decreasing recidivism to the criminal justice system. Comprised of an Assistant Manager of NSH, a Re-Entry Coordinator, a Re-Entry Specialist and a Certified Peer Specialist, this team facilitates flow through the forensic system and community integration. BHJD assisted with Norristown State Hospital re-entry before this program was operational, but the formalized team and program have been operational since April 2018.

Department of Corrections (DOC) Re-Entry

This program provides continuity of care discharge planning for Philadelphians returning from all 26 State Correctional Institutions. The Assistant Manager of DOC Re-Entry reviews the inmate roster that encompasses all 26 State Correctional Institutions under the State Department of Corrections. The team in-reaches to inmates that will reach their maximum sentences within the next 12 months and who are on the “C”, “D” and “PRT” rosters. Status on one of these rosters indicates inmates who are more likely to display a severe mental illness (SMI) according to the state priority group. Individuals who qualify, and desire services, will be linked to appropriate services and supports, including inpatient acute hospital, TIP, TCM, CPS and/or community outpatient services. This program has been operational since September 2006.

Alternatives to Detention Adult Probation and Parole Department

To reduce the further criminalization of individuals with mental illness, this initiative supports persons involved with the Adult Probation and Parole Department (APPD). APPD has noted a lack of appropriate resources for individuals on their caseloads who are in crisis or at risk of psychiatric de-compensation or criminal recidivism. Historically, these individuals may have been detained for lack of compliance or acting out due to psychiatric de-compensation and end up enduring lengthy jail stays. The ATD program keeps vulnerable individuals in the community where they can get the treatment and support they need and leads to huge savings in jail days. To this end, behavioral health navigators are embedded within the APPD to respond to behavioral health crises, help individuals on probation navigate services, and provide as needed screening and linkage to community services and supports. This program has been operational since May 2017.

Alternatives to Detention (ATD) Re-Entry

This initiative seeks to enhance the re-entry process for individuals with behavioral health challenges returning to the Philadelphia community from the Philadelphia Department Prisons (PDP). An extension of the ATD program with APPD, which began in 2017, behavioral health navigators staff the ATD Re-entry program. Navigators work closely with the psychiatric and medical treatment providers at PDP, to connect with individuals who need re-entry planning. Referrals also are generated from other justice partners. Navigators provide screening and linkage for incarcerated individuals with behavioral health challenges, activating benefits, making referrals to case management and PeerStar, connecting to inpatient and outpatient treatment, and other social services as needed. They work closely with justice partners to coordinate release and ensure continuity of care and warm hand offs into the community. This program has been in operation since January 2021.

Clinical Programs Under Development

Peer-run Crisis Residence: BHJD is working with RHD and CBH to establish an eight-bed peer-run crisis residence for Philadelphians. The program will be staffed primarily by Certified Peer Specialists who provide support services to the residents 24 hours per day and 7 days per week. The services at the Crisis Residence will include accommodations, meals, linkages to community services, behavioral health support and supervision, peer support, and wellness/recovery planning. Service philosophy includes trauma-informed care, recovery values/orientation, strength-based assessment and service planning, and strong peer support. The core competencies of Certified Peer Specialists will be central to the program philosophy and daily operations. The peer specialists of the program will focus their efforts on supporting residents through respect, cultural humility, engagement and sharing of their lived experiences. With such support, the peer specialists and other staff members will establish mutual trust to better facilitate care coordination and linkage to community resources. Harm Reduction techniques will also be utilized as well as evidence-based mental health treatment. RHD values will also guide service delivery, offering dignity and respect, voice and choice to program participants. The goal of the program is to assess, stabilize, and support community reintegration for each participant. Length of stay is expected to range from seven to 30 days depending on individual needs.