Prosper Waco has launched the Waco Connect program with the City of Waco Police Department. The city now has a full-time social worker located at the Waco Police Department and employed by Prosper Waco.
So, what does the Waco Connect program look like at Waco PD?
The social worker, DeAngela Bynum, is social resource coordinator (SRC). The goal of her work is to connect community members to much needed social resources and supports. Obviously, one person cannot do this for the entire community, so we have worked with police to choose a particular set of individuals who will be offered Waco Connect services as a pilot program. This population includes community members who have multiple law enforcement interactions and those that have frequent Emergency Detention Orders (EDOs).
When we say, “multiple law enforcement contacts,” we are referring to those community members for which the police receive multiple calls for minor disturbances and infractions that may or may not warrant police intervention. Some people are the subject of multiple calls in one day and others over a period of weeks or months. These community members may benefit from accessing other social resources to support their overall physical and mental health.
The other subset of the population includes those who have multiple or frequent EDOs. An EDO is when a community member is in a mental health crisis and needs assessment for hospitalization but is not willing or able to go voluntarily. The police have the authority to take the individual into custody and take them to a facility to obtain a psychiatric assessment. Some of our community members find themselves in mental health crises frequently. Waco Connect will work with them to access the resources and supports necessary to reduce mental health crises and promote mental health.
DeAngela, the social worker/SRC, receives referrals from within the police department, completes a needs assessment, and then provides linkage and support in accessing, navigating, and obtaining the resources to help meet their needs. Waco Connect can continue to provide ongoing support for as long as needed for up to one year. The desired overall outcomes will be a reduction in law enforcement contacts, EDOs, emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and medical costs as well as an increased level of overall physical and mental health.
Prosper Waco, the city, and the Waco Police Department are excited about what this program can provide as we partner together to provide more comprehensive support for our community members. Stay tuned for more information as we continue to grow and expand Waco Connect services.
Telawna Kirbie is director of behavioral health initiatives for Prosper Waco.