County Commissioning Sobering Center To Let Inebriated Dry Out

The county is going to pay more than $665,028 per year for the next 33 months to have an outfit known as Volunteers of America, Southwest provide what CaSonya Thomas, the director of the county’s department of behavioral health, referred to as “sobering center services.”
According to Thomas, “Sobering center services are diversion services offered to inebriated adults in lieu of being incarcerated. Sobering centers are designed to provide short term stay services in a clean, safe environment to allow the effects of chemical intoxicants to subside and allow the adult time to regain minimal levels of functionality. In addition, adults staying at the center will have the opportunity to receive a screening and referral to other substance use disorder services to meet their individual needs.”
Thomas said “The county department of behavioral health is responsible for providing mental health and/or substance use disorder services to county residents who are experiencing major mental illness and/or substance use disorders. Sobering center services is a new county department of behavioral health alcohol and drug services voluntary countywide program providing an alternative to the more expensive cost of incarceration, as well as providing information and/or referrals to recovery treatment programs. It is anticipated that Volunteers of America will provide sobering center services to approximately 4,332 adults annually at an estimated cost of $148 per adult.”
Thomas said, “Volunteers of America, Southwest will provide sobering center services countywide. Initially, there will be one location, in the West Valley/Central Valley region, with the specific site to be determined mutually between Volunteers of America and the department of behavioral health upon approval of the contract. Volunteers of America will aggressively search for a site in the West Valley/Central Valley region where sobering center services will be provided. Remodel or modification to the site will be a priority with an anticipated operation date of no later than January 2016. The Volunteers of America sobering center will operate 24/7 to provide a short term stay, on average six to eight hours, for adults referred and received from law enforcement officers. Once the individual reaches a sober state, a screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment (SBIRT) will be administered by agency staff. SBIRT is a comprehensive health promotion approach for the delivery of early intervention and treatment services to people with, or at risk of developing, substance use disorders. The adult will then be provided information about substance use disorders and offered the opportunity to enter into recovery treatment programs or other appropriate services within the county based on their individual needs.”
The total contracted amount of $1,828,849 includes $1,768,829 intended for services and $60,000 for start-up costs. The program is funded through driving under the influence fines and 2011 Realignment funding. Bidding on the project was initiated in September 2014, when proposals were solicited. Six agencies attended the mandatory qualifications conference on September 30, 2014. Two applications were received in response to the request, one from Anka Behavioral Health, Inc. of Concord and Clearwater Residential Care for the Elderly, Inc. of San Bernardino.
During the evaluation process, the evaluation committee, comprised of individuals from the county of San Bernardino Behavioral Health Commission, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, San Diego County Behavioral Health Services and behavioral health staff found that the applications from Anka Behavioral Health, Inc. and Clearwater Residential Care for the Elderly, Inc. did not meet the qualifications of the request for qualifications to adequately provide sobering center services in that the facilities were converted residences located in residential neighborhoods on busy thoroughfares and safety requirements outlined in the request were not sufficiently addressed. As a result, the department of behavioral health terminated the request for qualification on December 8, 2014 and began exploring other options. Because Volunteers of America had a facility in San Diego County, department of behavioral health staff members toured tthat Volunteers of America sober center on more than one occasion.
According to Thomas, “Department of behavioral health staff was able to ascertain that the San Diego model operated by Volunteers of America will meet all of the county’s needs to successfully offer these critical services. After termination of the request for qualifications, the department of behavioral health engaged in discussions with Volunteers of America to determine the feasibility of Volunteers of America providing these services in San Bernardino County. Volunteers of America has extensive knowledge of the target population, the facility needs and requirements, safety requirements and the staffing required to provide these services successfully. The county purchasing department concurs with non-competitive justification of specialized services. The recommended non-competitive contract with Volunteers of America to provide sobering center services includes the option of two one-year extensions, contingent upon funding and contractor performance. The implementation plan will be expedited upon approval of the contract. The department of behavioral health will monitor contractor performance on a regular basis to ensure performance and compliance standards are met.”

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