Posted by Jessica Martin on Apr 05, 2018

New Embedded Social Worker Program

Our program today was brought to us by the Arlington Police Department.
Chief Ventura discussed the opioid issue in Arlington. Last year we were over 125% of space in jail and over 400 warrants active.  For the past 20 years we arrest people for petty crimes or quality of life crimes.  By the time they get back on the street to work they would be seeing the same folks committing the same crimes.  So they started to look at how to make it work .  They came up with the idea of treating the root cause of the problem.  Search community is different.  Our homeless numbers are growing. But the biggest problem is males over the age of 30 on opioids. So they started to treat the problem shooting for just 10% first.  Not trying to be soft but practical.  Low level crime rate here still.  Looked at Community Court and one stop shop.  But was concerned about hug a thug problem.  But law enforcement embedded social workers.  So the platform switched and three years later the ideas are coming to fruition.  The chief introduced Ken Thomas and Britany Sutton, to tell us about the new program.
Resource Officer Ken Thomas with Social Worker Brittany Sutton
 Ken has 20 years in law enforcement.  Now going to homeless camps and being proactive.  2015 the office started and building on the ideas. 
Brittany said they go out to camps do dry runs to find new folks who want to change their lives and see if they are engaged to change and let them know it’s their choice and they have the availability to make changes.  They setup detox to inpatient, no contact, once clean they are their 30-60 days and move to housing go shopping to get them housing items and food.  They help them move in and take care of them to get them to stay sober for 3 months and ongoing communication.  People are now starting to come out of the woods and asking for help and turning themselves in.  People are starting to turn after a history of 10-12 years of use.
Ken said he has been working with the Marysville office and other local places.  During the cold weather they approach them and tell them the new option they are willing to get help and they find out they have 6 months’ worth of housing and before in jail they would get sent right back out and in the same pattern and taking the drugs again.  When we see them walking at night on cold nights they take meth so they don’t sleep so they stay warm moving.  The folks are now approaching them and recognizing the folks working on this and asking for help. 99% of folks they are talking to need help and they are filled out until the end of April.  Now they are trying to find more housing for all these folks.
What types of things are being done about jobs to help sustain them?  They help folks and they disappear and they think they are successful somewhere and move once they are doing well.  They are looking forward to results this year on what happens next.  Work source is a place that helps as well.
What is the growth impact on this because of our growth rate here? Does this population grow with our community?  Not seeing new folks, just seeing the same folks and within county.  They aren’t seeing an influx now but over the summer could see people moving here more because it’s easier to get around.  It is starting to level off here.  We have  a big problem in Smokey point and they push them, but then they go to Marysville, and then they send them back over to us.  So the people are just getting pushed back and forth over I-5 and now they are partnering and really have nowhere else to go.  They are all working on the same plan.  Using county social workers versus others due to funding being federal now and can cover the whole county.  No lines now and private practices are accepting these folks because of the federal funding, which is removing the gaps that stopped these plans before.  Not a lot of stats because the program is new and they will have some data after a year.  In other places the success rate has been 40-60% in other areas.  We are looking just for a 10% improvement.  They have a diversion center with the Sheriff’s office now to get plugged into the system right away.
Arlington community resource center has resources as well for housing and assistance.   This has been a great partnership where they meet folks weekly.
What about Elma?  And can we call police to help if we find someone and can’t get them into Elma?  They would like that and do take referrals.  Our schedules are dynamic and we want to help them.
What about the new meth clinic?  We will be working with stilly director where they will get assessment help right away.
How is this funded?  Is this part of the 3 billion funding for opioids?  This is a county effort and a pilot program.  The county picks up half of the social worker and half of the Marysville side and they pay half with the officers too.  All have funded it.  There is a flexible spending account they have where the funds are used to pay for items like housing and supplies for these people.
What can the community do to support to volunteer?  They don’t have something like this yet.  They just are trying to spread the word now and get people to advocate and become aware of it.  But can donate to the flex fund.
Don’t give change, keep it and donate to help and support the cause.  If you keep giving change they won’t get help and they will just keep coming back to take more.
Program sounds good, what will you do with more and more coming in to take this program even from other areas?  Once they get through the 6 months of housing and then having the system become a steady flow.  They don’t plan to be overburdened because they will start to help each other and the community because they have been able to get better and now would want to help others. 
Is there anyone we can approach and refer them to the program?  Yes if you are comfortable and can talk to them go for it and give them the card for help.  If they are able they will engage with them and come over. They do have to follow up with folks to make sure they are staying clean and getting going. 
There is a lack of resources and this will continue.  We do send folks out of state for treatment because we can’t help them.  Homeless folks are drawn to the west coast.
How is the funding going to work out with the current funds needed and what is projected for the future when it’s fully successful?  They will know over the year.  The team are averaging $300 a month on officer for the program.  The folks usually don’t’ have ID or health insurance.  While we wait for an assessment they get them these services and get a DSHS voucher.  They will help them go through the whole process because they aren’t able to do it on their own.  They take them to court or whatever they need to get them.  It’s about 10k for each office is about 1,000 a month.  Once the success rate is proven more folks would be willing to write a check for that.
Funding for salaries is jointly but once results are proven the counsel would support and the flex fund has very specific uses and not is allowed for long term things.  It’s emergency funds.