Accessing Government Funding for Statewide SOAR Activities
By SAMHSA SOAR TA Center
March 4, 2016
**This blog is Part Two of two articles focusing on funding for SOAR. The first was focused on funding for SOAR programs operated by non-profit organizations. This article will focus on building statewide infrastructure to enable SOAR across your state.
There are many funding strategies and opportunities available to states that are working on implementing SOAR. This article will focus on a few of the different options available to fund and expand SOAR activities in your state. While this article will only focus on a few, please see earlier articles and resources created by the SOAR TA Center on the topic of funding.
SAMHSA’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Block Grants
An often underutilized and overlooked source of funding for SOAR activities is the SAMHSA Mental Health Block Grant (MHBG). When you think of block grants you may think of complex “policy wonkish” things like “noncompetitive formula grants” or “mandated by the U.S. Congress to eligible entities” but this is the important part; each state gets money from the Federal government to pay for behavioral health services not paid for by Medicaid, Medicare, or private insurance.
When you ask people “how does your state use their MHBG money?” 99% will not know. Consumers you work with may access services in your state that are supported by MHBG funds, but there is usually no clear mechanism for making that connection. However, there is one person in your state who will be sure to know, that is your state’s Single State Authority contact person, usually someone in your state’s behavioral health leadership. A list of these folks can be found here. In addition, each state has an assigned contact person (Government Project Officer) who oversees the programmatic aspects of the grant. These folks can be found here.
Steps to Accessing: States must submit a plan explaining how they will use MHBG funds to provide comprehensive, community mental health services to adults with serious mental illnesses and children with serious emotional disturbances. It is in this plan that you would need to include SOAR so that it could be supported by MHBG funds.
Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH)
Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) - funds provide outreach and supportive services for adults with serious mental illness or substance use disorders who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Through inclusion in contract language, PATH funds support dedicated SOAR benefits specialists, SOAR training, and statewide leadership and coordination in many states.
Steps to Accessing: In many states the State PATH Contact is also the SOAR State Team Lead, but this is not always the case. If you are interested in learning more about how SOAR and PATH can work together in your state we encourage you to speak with your SOAR TA Center Liaison and your state’s PATH Contact.
Cooperative Agreements to Benefit Homeless Individuals (CABHI)
CABHI funds dedicated SOAR benefits specialists and access to mainstream benefits programs in Colorado, Connecticut, Michigan, Nebraska, and New Mexico. The great news about CABHI is that it allows for funding to be used towards planning activities like SOAR, something we discussed at length earlier in this article. The even better news is that there is currently a FOA open right now. Check it out and apply!
The views, opinions, and content expressed in SOAR Voices do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors.