Budget cuts impact Santa Clara County mental health program aimed to help former inmates

Bay Area

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — A Santa Clara County mental health program aimed to assist former inmates transition back into the community is facing critical staff shortages amid recent county budget cuts. 

In 2017, the county launched the Community Awaiting Placement Supervision (CAPS) program to assist seriously mental ill inmates upon release from jail by expediting their entry into the appropriate mental health treatment services. 

Recently the county’s Reentry Services reported at the Sept. 1 Board of Supervisors meeting — only a small portion of people in the CAPS program completed the entire 90-day program. 

“We did an analysis on the CAPS program from July 1st of 2019 to June 30th of 2020 and 97 clients that were enrolled in the program, 16 were successful,” said Javier Aguirre, Director of Reentry Services for Santa Clara County. 

“Others that did not succeed, most of the dispositions of unsuccessful were because they didn’t show up to court for court appearance and others did not engage in treatment or did not report to probation.” 

Aguirre says there were a small number of people who unfortunately did not complete the program due to being rearrested — in most cases for minor crimes, petty theft or drug-related offenses.

Shortage in staff and recent budget cuts have made it even more difficult for the program to provide continuous vital support and guidance for its clients as they go through the entire 90-day program. 

“Our goal is to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to access our services and it’s going to be up to them to be able to access those services,” said Aguirre.

“At this moment we don’t have enough community workers.”

In response, county supervisors requested to look into adding community workers as another component to the program. 

At this time it is unclear how much assistance the program will receive as the county is in the process of continuing to make budget cuts.

“It is so important for clients to be assisted in their navigation of resources and services in the community by a peer,” Aguirre said. 

“A lot of our staff are dispatched as disaster service workers to help with the response to COVID-19.”

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