King County Department of Community and Human Services is awarding Purpose, Dignity, Action (PDA) with $4.1 million to continue the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program. LEAD is a diversion program that offers law enforcement an alternative to booking people into jail. The MIDD Behavioral Health Sales Tax Fund invests in LEAD to align with the fund’s policy goal to divert people with behavioral health needs from costly interventions, such as jail, emergency rooms, and hospitals.
DCHS invests in diversion programs to connect people to social services instead of cycling through jail and hospitals—a costly approach that doesn’t support people, sustain change and promote health and wellbeing. The Behavioral Health and Recovery Division in DCHS administers numerous programs focused on diverting people with behavioral health needs away from the criminal legal system and toward community-based treatment and support. Incarceration for low-level drug offenses has limited effectiveness and is why DCHS is investing in evidence-based strategies that offer a path to recovery.
Renewed investment in alternatives to booking people with behavioral health conditions in jail
DCHS has invested in LEAD since 2016
, and, following a Request For Proposals (RFP) process this summer, is awarding PDA with the contract. Of the $4.1 million, $2.7M will go to LEAD services in Burien and White Center and $1.3 million will be awarded through a contract with the City of Seattle to maintain the diversion program in Seattle.
The new contract structure will allow for increased alignment and role clarity on program metrics.
PDA, a nonprofit focused on social and racial equity and community health through reform of the criminal legal system will provide LEAD services, including case management to people in Burien, Seattle, and White Center. PDA is separately contracted with the City of Seattle for referrals from law enforcement for diversion within the City of Seattle.
The procurement process involved Policy Coordinating Group (PCG) members made up of government representatives within King County and the City of Seattle. Following input from the PCG, a review panel consisting of King County Council member staff as observers, subject matter experts in Burien and DCHS employees evaluated responses to the RFP.
Review panel recommendations were presented to DCHS leadership for final sign off. The contract begins January 1, 2024 and runs through December 31, 2024, with ongoing funding contingent on program performance and funding availability.
King County’s goals for this investment are to:
- help connect people to social services instead of cycling through jail and hospitals;
- address community safety through alternative approaches; and
- provide pathways to behavioral health and/or substance use treatment and recovery.