This brief summarizes information from a webinar hosted by The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center in partnership with the National Police Foundation, which addressed best practices for collaborating with referral sources for crisis stabilization units (CSUs), units that provide immediate access to care for people in crisis.
The relevance of CSUs for law enforcement officers and mobile crisis teams is their provision of a safe place to bring individuals with problem behaviors due to a behavioral health crisis as an alternative to arrest or emergency hospitalization. Establishing a CSU, however, can be challenging when funding is limited and support from key partners is necessary. The current overview of the featured webinar identifies and describes three best practices for collaborating with referral sources to ensure a CSU’s effectiveness. First, since CSUs can receive referrals from several sources, depending on the structure of the center and the services provided, it is important for CSUs to identify referral sources and build formal structures for these referrals. Criminal justice referral sources may be local law enforcement, jails, and other criminal justice corrections agencies. Another CSU best practice considered in the webinar is fostering effective partnerships with referral sources. One important way to do this is by outlining clear communication pathways, procedures, and responsibilities, usually with a memorandum of understanding that details each agency’s role with the CSU. The third best CSU practice addressed is to be flexible in meeting referral sources’ needs. During the webinar, representatives from some of the most common referral sources mentioned ways to ensure the CSU meets their needs and is convenient and easy to access. One suggestion among many listed in this brief is the provision of diversion options to CSU for both hospitals and law enforcement agencies.