DENVER- Today, the Polis-Primavera administration and Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) announced that over $130 million in grant opportunities supporting behavioral health care are now available for eligible parties to apply. The grant programs focus on implementing innovative, data-driven behavioral health strategies that meet the needs of individual communities and expanding crime prevention. As part of these grant opportunities, the BHA has partnered with Colorado Health Institute to provide technical assistance to applicants through the community behavioral health services toolkit which will support navigating the application process and creating the most effective projects for each community.
“Ensuring people have access to high-quality behavioral healthcare when they need it is one of the most important investments we can make in our state,” said Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera. “Governor Polis and I are encouraged by the investments we’ve delivered over the past four years, including the allocation of resources to bolster Colorado’s behavioral health workforce and funding to address targeted areas of community need, but the work does not stop here. I look forward to continuing improving behavioral healthcare resources so that every Coloradan can reach the support they deserve.”
“As we emerge from the pandemic, it is the BHA’s plan to operate as a community anchor, supporting local efforts while elevating our collective cause to strengthen Colorado’s behavioral health system,” said Dr. Morgan Medlock, Behavioral Health Administration Commissioner.
The new four grant programs are a result of SB22-196, sponsored by Senators Julie Gonzales and Pete Lee as well as Representatives Jennifer Bacon and Adrienne Benavidez, and HB22-1281, sponsored by Representatives Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez and Naquetta Ricks and Senators Faith Winter and Bob Rankin. These laws were signed by Governor Polis this summer as a part of the Polis-Primavera administration’s commitment to delivering bold investments in behavioral healthcare for Coloradans. The grant opportunities now accepting applications include:
The Criminal Justice Early Intervention Grant Program
Community Investment Grant Program
Children, Youth, and Families Grant Program
Substance Use Workforce Stability Grant Program
“Arresting and jailing Coloradans with behavioral health needs has never been an efficient or cost-effective way to combat our state’s behavioral health crisis and help folks get the care they need, so we’re taking steps to change that,” said Senator Julie Gonzales, D-Denver. “Through this grant opportunity, local communities will be equipped with the resources they need to divert people away from the criminal justice system and into appropriate community treatment programs.”
“The Criminal Justice Early Intervention Grant Program is a community-based solution that will reduce reliance on our jails and prisons for mental health care and make it easier for Coloradans with behavioral health needs to receive the treatment they need," said Assistant Majority Leader-elect Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver, sponsor of SB22-196. "Now, with grant applications open, we're one step closer to improving behavioral health access for Coloradans in communities across the state.”
“Coloradans with behavioral health conditions deserve treatment, not punishment, yet the criminalization of these conditions has only made the problem worse,” said Senator Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs. “This grant opportunity will help ensure folks with mental health conditions and substance use disorders can get the treatment they need rather than enter the criminal justice system while making our communities safer, reducing recidivism, and saving taxpayers money.”
“Early behavioral health intervention is one tool we have to divert Coloradans away from the criminal justice system toward treatment," said Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, D-Commerce City, sponsor of SB22-196. "The Criminal Justice Early Intervention Grant Program is a local strategy to get Coloradans the behavioral health they need before they enter the criminal justice system in the first place."
The grant programs invest in local strategies and encourage those who understand their community’s individual needs and challenges to apply. Eligible applicants include local governments, community-based and/or nonprofit organizations, nonprofit hospitals, rural health clinics, substance use disorder treatment or recovery providers, federally recognized tribes, and local law enforcement agencies.
“Navigating Colorado’s behavioral health system can be unnecessarily difficult, which makes it challenging for folks to access the care they need when they need it,” said Senator Faith Winter, D-Westminster. “These grants will help local governments and nonprofits implement innovative, community-based programs to fill critical gaps within our behavioral health system and improve outcomes for families, children, and youth across our state.”
“Coloradans in every corner of our state feel the acute lack of behavioral health services, and each community’s needs are different,” said Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, D-Denver, sponsor of HB22-1281. “I’m thrilled that this grant program will soon accept applications because it means families, kids, and youth will soon have expanded access to the behavioral health care they so critically need.”
“New grant programs, including the Children, Youth, and Families Grant Program, will fill critical gaps in care so that more families can access the behavioral health services they need to thrive,” said Rep. Naquetta Ricks, D-Aurora, sponsor of HB22-1281. “Every community's needs are different and the available grants are designed to help local governments, non-profits and substance use organizations secure the necessary funding to improve behavioral health outcomes for Coloradans."
The community behavioral health services assessment toolkit was created by the BHA in partnership with the Colorado Health Institute to support applicants through the application process and understanding their community’s strengths, needs, and gaps; overall strengthening their investments. The toolkit offers assistance with grant writing, needs assessment, and/or program design. Applicants for the Community Investment Grant Program and the Children, Youth, and Families Grant Program are able to utilize the toolkit.
“We know navigating grant application processes can have many obstacles, especially for our historically-excluded communities and those who have been unable to access trusted resources, and we truly want to make applying for funding as simple and accessible as possible. The BHA is here to support you and to honor lived experiences,” said Kayla Martin, BHA Contracts & Procurement Manager.
Other transformative behavioral healthcare investments signed this year by Governor Polis include:
SB22-177 was signed by Gov. Polis in May and sponsored by Senators Brittany Pettersen (now Congresswoman-elect) and Bob Rankin and Representatives Brianna Titone and Mary Bradfield. SB22-177, Investments in Statewide Care Coordination Infrastructure, will improve coordination across Colorado between behavioral health providers and include new resources for communities statewide. Streamlining information and data will improve how providers coordinate care and services for people seeking behavioral health services and improve patient experiences.
SB22-181, the Behavioral Healthcare Workforce Development, created a new plan to strengthen and build the behavioral healthcare workforce to ensure Colorado can continue to provide high-quality services. This bill was sponsored by Senators Bridges and Simpson and Representatives Cutter and Van Beber. Through collaboration with the Department of Higher Education, institutions of higher education, and community colleges, this plan will provide new training opportunities, internships, scholarships, and more to help recruit, train, and retain a qualified behavioral healthcare workforce.
The Polis-Primavera administration has committed to developing the behavioral healthcare system in Colorado and saving people money on healthcare. Through their commitment, the administration has created innovative resources to ensure that more Coloradans can access quality support when needed. Governor Polis created the Behavioral Health Transformational Task Force (BHTTF) in 2019 which focuses on streamlining Colorado’s behavioral health system and increasing the efficiency and access to resources. The task force is made up of stakeholders, legislatures and community leaders to deliver well-rounded strategies. The Polis-Primavera administration has worked closely with the BHTTF to create transformative behavioral health bills.
Further information regarding available technical assistance for these grant opportunities can be found by creating an account and logging in to VSS to access the request for applications (RFA) and more information regarding each of these grant programs and timelines can be found on the BHA Funding Opportunities webpage.