A collaborative team of community leaders with roles that intersect with issues of mental health and substance abuse are working together to identify the community’s needs related to behavioral health and to create an integrated system of services to address those needs. This coordinated effort of cross-sector systems that include healthcare providers, criminal justice, elected County and City officials, the mental health authority and educational institutions, is known as the McLennan County Behavioral Health Leadership Team (BHLT).
Our mission is, "Collaborating with and connecting families through a shared community vision to provide a culturally responsive continuum of care so children, youth and young adults are supported in becoming healthy and successful in the Heart of Texas region."
OCOF serves the children, adolescents and youth of our community.
OCOF helps to provide access to previously inaccessible services and supports for our community’s most at-risk youth in order to enhance opportunities and improve outcomes for future success.
OCOF was awarded a grant, through SAMHSA, and received $3.4 Million for our initiative called “Closing the Gaps.” There are 3 main targets for the funding of this 4-year grant: School Based Mental Health, Transition Age Youth, and Crisis Respite for Youth.
In January 2012, the McLennan County Reintegration Roundtable Steering Committee held its first meeting. The steering committee (composed of local law enforcement, social services agencies, and community members) met regularly to determine priorities for best helping individuals returning from incarceration reintegrate into society. Numerous sub-committees focused on topics such as increasing employment, linking ex-offenders to resources, pre-release counseling, and reducing recidivism.
In 2016, recognizing the value of the reintegration effort to our community, McLennan County and City of Waco agreed to provide matching funding to Heart of Texas Region MHMR to create a program manager position to coordinate services and work directly with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals.
The Reintegration Program provides transitional services to those currently in the county jail and those just released. The assistance may start while the client is in jail, and often continues post release. Services focus on helping individuals successfully reintegrate into the community and avoid re-incarceration. Services include employment readiness, job search, locating housing, mental health counseling, addiction counseling, and various other support services.
By providing supportive services, the Reintegration program truly helps ex-offenders reintegrate back into society. This improves outcomes for these individuals, reduces the financial burden on local law enforcement and jail by reducing recidivism, and contributes to the economic development of our community by increasing the employment rate of formerly incarcerated individuals.
Client Story 1
This client engaged in the Reintegration Program while incarcerated at McLennan County Jail and was released into the community in January 2017. The client initially struggled with the ability to maintain stability with his recovery. He slipped on one occasion and engaged in smoking crack cocaine over the weekend. He and his wife immediately reached out to the McLennan County Reintegration Program for support, and the client accepted placement into a local treatment program for medically supervised withdrawal and treatment.
The Reintegration Program then assisted the client with obtaining his Texas Identification so that he would be able to find employment. The client was provided an employment referral to Total Placement Solutions, which then assisted the client in obtaining full time employment with local employer Waco Composites on March 21, 2017.
The Reintegration Program provided the client with new work boots for his job to help him achieve success in the new work environment. Currently, the client has successfully maintained his employment with Waco Composite and is being provided weekly case management services through the Reintegration Program to help him continue to be successful. The client has not been re-arrested since his release into the McLennan County community.
Client Story 2
This client was a self-referral after the client attended the McLennan County Reintegration Summit in January. He had been released from TDCJ after serving over 20 years. This client attended weekly support groups provided by the McLennan County Reintegration Program until he was able to secure employment. He also attends weekly counseling sessions. This client has not been re-arrested, maintains stable employment and is in good standing with the Texas Parole Department.
This project serves as a pre-trial intervention for individuals facing criminal justice charges from the McLennan County District Attorney. The program provides staff and procedures for identifying justice-involved individuals suffering from mental health conditions who would be better served with mental health services than with criminal prosecution. Staff for the program (provided by Heart of Texas Region MHMR with support from Tarleton State University) evaluate individuals for mental health needs and recommend interventions to a committee that determines whether the individual is likely to successfully complete a treatment plan that will meet their mental health needs and reduce their risk of engaging with law enforcement in the future. Individuals who successfully complete their treatment plan avoid prosecution for the activities for which they were arrested.
The Mental Health Jail Diversion program serves individuals charged with crimes by the McLennan County District Attorney. Program staff evaluate individuals for mental health needs and provide services and supports to those individuals with an approved treatment plan.
Jail diversion programs serve both justice-involved individuals and the community as a whole. By reducing the number of individuals whose cases are fully prosecuted, the mental health jail diversion program reduces costs for both the District Attorney's office and McLennan County jail, which houses a large number of inmates with mental illness. The individuals involved in the jail diversion program not only receive much-needed mental health services and supports, they avoid becoming more deeply involved in the criminal justice system and avoid the negative outcomes associated with incarceration and a criminal conviction. This allows them the opportunity to remain productive members of the community.