Reminder: Request for Proposal – Up to $2M for Culturally Appropriate Behavioral Health Services – Closes July 7

The Request for Proposal (RFP) for Culturally Appropriate Behavioral Health Services will close on July 7, 2022, at 2:00 p.m.

Up to $2,000,000 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds is available to build, improve and enhance culturally appropriate behavioral health services to communities in King County who were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Multiple awards are anticipated at approximately $200,000 per award.

View the full RFP and apply here:

As our region faces increased behavioral health needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as disproportionate impacts on populations already experiencing systemic barriers to behavioral health treatment, this RFP seeks community-based organizations to provide and expand culturally appropriate behavioral health treatment and improve outcomes for those disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Goals of the RFP

Programs funded through the Culturally Appropriate Behavioral Health Services (CABHS) RFP will define, create and expand community-driven behavioral health treatment and interventions to support creative, culturally relevant interventions for improved behavioral health outcomes.

CABHS funds will be used to meet the behavioral health needs of communities in King County that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, as defined by recent public health statistics in King County, including South King County along the I-5 corridor (Auburn, Tukwila, SeaTac, Federal Way, Southeast Kent, South Renton) and South Park, Georgetown, and White Center neighborhoods in Seattle.

Programs will address the cultural diversity and needs of the populations to be served, provide services that meet the individual’s beliefs and background, and take into account the experiences of communities that have resulted in a distrust of behavioral health systems, inability to access timely and sensitive treatment, stigma, and other barriers to care.

CABHS programs will see an increase in engagement, effectiveness, continuity, and longevity of services in historically oppressed and marginalized populations by providing support and intervention at a time and in a manner that best meets their needs.

Anticipated activities could include:

  • Outreach, engagement, and education on behavioral health, services, and resources
  • Design and implementation of programs and interventions that are appropriate to the language and culture of people receiving services
  • Expansion of services not otherwise covered by existing funding sources
  • Creation of culturally appropriate care guidelines, assessments, materials, and tools

What is Culturally Appropriate Treatment?

In 2021, King County held focus groups and interviewed dozens of subject matter experts to identify the components of culturally appropriate behavioral health care, as well as how that care can be improved. Respondents identified four key components:

  1. Service providers reflect and understand the cultural background of those they serve.
  2. Services are creative and flexible. They are offered, unconditionally, in a manner, timeframe, language, and setting that is meaningful and appropriate to the recipient; and regardless of the recipient’s immigration or benefits status, ability to meet pre-determined eligibility criteria, or other factors that impose barriers to necessary treatment.
  3. Data is disaggregated, detailed, and interpreted to show who is and is not being served, how and by whom they are being served, and how they are responding to treatment.
  4. Services incorporate and strengthen communities, families, schools, support networks, and other systems.

Interviewees drew attention to the complex service needs of communities, much of which falls outside of traditional insurance coverage or medical necessity criteria. These unfunded services are necessary to explain complex and unfamiliar paperwork prior to enrollment; coordinate referrals; build trust and lower stigma; provide education; outreach difficult-to-locate referrals; provide intervention before a behavioral health need reaches the clinical threshold for diagnosis and treatment; or stabilize, engage, or improve a behavioral health need in a culturally relevant manner that is outside of the “medically-accepted” model of care.

Why Culturally Appropriate Care is Critical

All communities have been impacted by the pandemic, but some communities have experienced a disproportionate impact, as seen in higher rates of mortality, homelessness, poverty, unemployment, and other measures of health and wellbeing.

Culture is inherently important to effective behavioral healthcare, influencing everything from how much a person trusts a practitioner or methodology to how they perceive and express mental health distress. Approaches to behavioral health services must be customized to meet the demands of King County’s diverse population.

For behavioral health services to be effective and transformative, they must be filtered through and customized for cultural and linguistic norms. A change in the traditional service model is needed given the rise in demand for behavioral health services brought out or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is particularly true in diverse communities disproportionately impacted, including Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color, LGBTQI+ individuals, non-native English speakers, and other religious and ethnic minorities.

According to extensive data*, those most likely experience disproportionate impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic include Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (NH/PI), American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN), Hispanic and Black residents, residents at or below 40% Average Median Income, and youth from underserved and economically disadvantaged communities.

Here are a few striking items from the data that highlight the need for culturally appropriate services:

  • Unemployment claims were the highest among NH/PI and Black populations
  • During the pandemic, life expectancy decreased among NH/PI and Hispanic populations
  • Life expectancy has been decreasing for the past 10 years among South King County residents
  • Medicaid members are primarily people of color
  • AI/AN and Black Medicaid beneficiaries face disproportionate risks for adverse health events
  • Child access to primary care and mental health care have significantly decreased
  • Highest increase in emergency department visits related to suicide attempts or suicide ideation were among school-aged youth (10-19), AI/AN and Black populations
  • Adults who identified as LGBTQI+ were more than twice as likely as cisgender (cis) heterosexual adults to report frequent mental distress
  • LGBTQI+ adults were twice as likely to report unmet medical needs
  • Youth identifying as LGBTQI+ were more likely to report current substance, marijuana, and e-cigarette use compared to youth identifying as cis heterosexual

Available Funding

Up to $2,000,000 is available through ARPA funding to support the work described in this RFP. Awards will be offered for the remainder of the 2021-2022 biennium, and the program period is anticipated to be August 1, 2022 – December 31, 2023.

Submit proposals through Zoomgrants at:

See the full RFP and other open funding opportunities on the Contracting with DCHS webpage:

Questions? Contact Cassandra Hunter, Procurement Lead, at


King County Community Health Needs Assessment, 2021-2022

2018-2019 King County Community Health Needs Assessment, Executive Summary

Behavioral Health Needs and Services in King County, WA: March – May 2020

HealthierHere’s homepage – collaborating for a healthier community

King County Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System