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Supervisor Nathan Fletcher’s policy to establish and open the region’s first Behavioral Health Workforce Center of Excellence in partnership with Interfaith Communities and Price Philanthropies received unanimous support today during the San Diego County Board of Supervisors meeting. 

“Creating centers of excellence will help us address the shortage of behavioral health workers in San Diego County,” said Supervisor Fletcher. “These centers will offer on-the-job training for behavioral health professionals, allow for career advancement, and ultimately allow us to provide care to more people experiencing behavioral health issues. 

“This partnership with Interfaith and Price Philanthropies can serve as a model for how we scale-up and open more behavioral health centers of excellence throughout the region. I am excited that they have raised their hand to help make this project a reality, and I know that together we will deliver results.”    

The action taken by the Board of Supervisors today will allow the County to leverage $2.5 million from the Price Philanthropies Foundation and $1 million of the County of San Diego Mental Health Services Act funding to establish the program. 

The Interfaith Behavioral Health Workforce Center of Excellence will be a five-year pilot program that provides training, education, and licensure to Interfaith’s existing and future workforce and enable them to advance in their careers, fill hard-to-recruit behavioral health positions, and develop a sustainable funding model to continue the pilot program beyond the grant term. It is estimated the workers trained at the Center of Excellence will provide services to 31,000 people over the five-year period. 

This program is expected to develop apprenticeships and on-the-job training for positions such as Psychiatric Technicians, Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors, Substance Abuse Counselors, Certified Nursing Assistants, Peer Support Specialists, and entry-level Social Workers.

Earlier this year, the San Diego Workforce Partnership released a report, requested by Supervisor Fletcher, that studied how to expand the number of mental health and addiction treatment workers. As the County has launched new programs, it has been difficult to find qualified workers to staff the programs. The report found that the region needs an additional 8,100 behavioral health workers to meet the current need, and by 2027, it is estimated a total of 18,500 will be needed.  

Read the entire policy, here.