AR Briefly

Arkansas directs federal grant money to DHS-run behavioral health crisis stabilization units

By: - August 30, 2023 7:00 am

Arkansas’ four Crisis Stabilization Units (CSUs) will receive a one-time federal grant to help “enhance services and achieve financial sustainability,” the state Department of Human Services announced in a Tuesday press release.

The CSUs in Little Rock, Fort Smith, Fayetteville and Jonesboro are “alternatives to jails and emergency rooms for people in crisis who encounter law enforcement,” according to the DHS website. Each unit has 16 beds, is open 24/7 and is staffed with nurses and mental health professionals.

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed a law this year directing $3 million annually to CSUs. In addition, the units will each receive $1 million from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that will be usable until June 30 of next year.

The state is asking the CSUs to find ways to use the funds to expand their services and submit to DHS a plan to maintain those services after the money runs out, according to the press release.

“I am confident the CSUs will implement changes that best reflect the communities they serve, and each plan will be unique in its scope and approach,” DHS Secretary Kristi Putnam said in the press release.

Act 423 of 2017, signed by former Gov. Asa Hutchinson, created the four CSUs. The law defines a CSU as “a public or private facility operated by or used by a behavioral health crisis intervention team” to help people with behavioral health issues manage their conditions in ways that reduce the likelihood of criminal behavior.

CSUs admit people “for short term stabilization related to mental health and/or substance misuse” and will accept referrals from anywhere in the state, according to the DHS website.


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Tess Vrbin
Tess Vrbin

Tess Vrbin came to the Advocate from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, where she reported on low-income housing and tenants' rights, and won awards for her coverage of 2021 flooding and tornado damage in rural Arkansas. She previously covered local government for The Commercial Dispatch in Mississippi and state government for the Columbia Daily Tribune in Missouri.