Everett developing alternative 911 responses by using more social workers
Everett city officials are developing new ways to deal with 911 calls, by sending social workers as first responders to calls involving mental health issues.
The Everett Herald reports that, with the help of $1.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and a new $183,000 grant, the city wants to add social workers as an alternative response to police to respond to 911 calls from people in mental health crises.
The social workers would work in teams out of fire departments and libraries. The funds will be used for developing or purchasing software to create files for people who frequently call 911 and would benefit from counseling.
City council members voted on Nov. 16 to accept a grant from the Association of Washington Cities along with part of $20.7 million in ARPA money to develop the program.
People call 911 for a variety of reasons besides an accident or immediate crime situations.
“What we realized, in talking with our police and our fire and our library systems, is that a lot of those departments will interact with the same individuals,” Julie Willie, community development director, told The Everett Herald. “So we want to be able to create a system for care coordination and share information for all of our social workers.”
The fire department was chosen for the pilot project because of their regular interactions with people who need social work that already approach them. The library was also seen as a good fit because of its image as a safe public space where people often use free resources and shelter.
The fire department’s social workers team will be sent to help to clinically assess people in crisis, Willie said. The library team will serve people who call 911 with chronic issues and act in more of a “preventative or interventional” capacity.