The US Department of Justice (DOJ) awarded a $21 million federal grant to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s Public Safety Office (PSO) on Monday, which will support local crisis intervention programs statewide.
PSO will form a Crisis Intervention Advisory Board that will guide the Byrne State Crisis Intervention Program’s funding to take a community-centric approach to behavioral health crisis response and violence reduction.
The DOJ funding will support the implementation of crisis intervention court programs that reduce recidivism, crime, and violence through initiatives that reform law enforcement response, case management, specialized court training, and mental health and drug treatments.
The funding is a provision of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), which Congress passed last June. US Sen. John Cornyn (R – TX) led congressional efforts to pass the legislation.
“Following the tragedy in Uvalde, I fought to ensure every state would receive funding to administer effective crisis response programs that uphold due process and improve public safety,” Cornyn said in a statement on Wednesday. “I applaud this significant investment for Texas to strengthen its existing intervention programs and ensure individuals in crisis receive meaningful help as our state continues to prioritize safe and healthy communities.”
Provisions in the (BSCA) also support states with resources to expand school-based health programs for Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries that access community-based behavioral healthcare. Several measures in the current legislative session aim to address school mental health and safety.
Sen. José Menéndez (D – San Antonio) introduced Senate Bill 113, which would provide Medicaid reimbursement for mental health services administered on public school grounds. The measure would allow school districts to partner with their local mental health authority to provide campus mental health assessments and services that are covered by the state’s Medicaid program.