Dane County Executive Joe Parisi unveiled his 2024 county budget on Monday which included $200,000 in county grant funds to communities seeking to partner with the existing Community Alternative Response for Emergency Services (CARES) mental health response program, improving the response to behavioral health emergencies beyond Madison’s city limits.
Parisi’s 2024 budget also starts a new “Dane County 911 Dispatch Diversion Team,” a group of crisis counselors based in the 911 Center that will work with people who call 911 while experiencing a behavioral health emergency, according to a press release from Dane County. The budget invests over $400,000 in new county funding for four 911 crisis counselor positions to start the new team.
“Together these initiatives build upon our countywide commitment to the well-being and safety of those who experience the pain and duress that can result from various behavioral health diagnoses,” Parisi said in a statement. “We know mental health
challenges impact those of all ages, from all walks of life, and it’s imperative we
continue to prioritize investing in the resources needed to help meet folks where they are at in their time of crisis.”
The ultimate goal for these investments, according to Parisi, is to bridge community access to mental health resources through crisis response teams and increase mediation for people suffering from behavioral health-related events. These tactics of harm reduction are increasing across the nation; a similar prevention model utilized in Tucson, Arizona reduced the need for an in-person response by public safety officials by close to 80%.