elorza providence

City of Providence Announces Next Steps in Creation of Behavioral Health Crisis Response Program

City issues request for proposals to expand co-response model with Public Safety and Healthy Communities Office

PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3), Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré and Director of Providence’s Healthy Communities Office Laurie Moise Sears today announced the City of Providence has released a Request for Proposals (RFP) to advance next steps regarding the City’s implementation of a behavioral health crisis response program. The Behavioral Health Crisis Co-Response Team RFP is designed to implement the expansion of Providence’s existing co-response efforts to include the fire department, and to increase the City’s capacity to provide mental health guidance and intervention when residents dial 9-1-1.

«We’re committed to challenging the way things have always been done and to find new solutions that better meet our needs,» said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. «After designing this program with feedback from key stakeholders, this request for proposals will allow us to provide more and better treatment to people experiencing a mental or behavioral health crisis.»

As Providence works to innovate and improve emergency responses to behavioral health crises, the City has invested in a multi-phased approach to creating a Behavioral Health and Social Service Crisis Response Program (BHSSCRP) within the Healthy Communities Office (HCO), in coordination with Providence Public Safety. As part of the program design phase, last year the City of Providence partnered with The Providence Center and Family Service of Rhode Island to provide analysis and planning services for public safety-related behavioral health and social service interventions. The partnership, guided by a multi-disciplinary Steering Committee, culminated with a final report titled, «Behavioral Health and Social Service Crisis Response Planning Services in Providence: Project Report and Recommendations.» The RFP released by the City advances recommendations made within the report.

Expanding co-response efforts within the Providence Fire Department will allow the City to utilize existing infrastructure to rapidly respond to crises with appropriate interventions while also collecting necessary data and process improvements to scale up services. Responsibilities of the selected provider will include providing a clinician to respond to behavioral health and social services calls alongside the Providence Fire Department and emergency medical services crews, as well as providing a clinician to work with the Providence Public Safety dispatch team to answer and assist with behavioral health and social service emergency calls. The selected provider will also help the City to develop standard operating procedures and precedents for future behavioral health crisis response programs.

“I am optimistic to see the City of Providence move forward with our behavioral health crisis response program. As an early proponent, I am proud to have worked alongside the administration to put this program into action for our city,» said Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune. «It is time for Providence to create a holistic public safety infrastructure integrated with public health that can respond to people’s behavioral health crises without criminalizing them and directly connect people to community-based services when they need help, not handcuffs.”

The Healthy Communities Office also announced the hiring of two full-time staff members dedicated to the programmatic management and evaluation of the City’s behavioral health programming, including this effort. Silaphone Nhongvongsouthy will serve as the Behavioral Health Program Manager and Rachel Ferrara will serve as the Data and Evaluation Manager for the program.

«Our community and partner organizations have put in so much work already to design a robust program that meets the specific needs of Providence, and we’re so excited to continue this work,» said Laurie Moise Sears, Director of the Healthy Communities Office. «I’m looking forward to working collaboratively to develop and implement this innovative co-response program.»

Organizations interested in applying or learning more can read the RFP here and apply by the April 11, 2022 deadline.

The Healthy Communities Office (HCO) is the City’s lead agency for health policy, health promotion and substance use disorder prevention. The HCO works to ensure that Providence residents have equitable access to the resources they need to lead healthy lives.