PRA 2019 Year in Review Scroll to learn more

Big News in 2019

  • Designed a customized technical assistance (TA) and training offering to connect states and localities to national experts, strategic planning services, and systems mapping opportunities.
  • Created a Competence to Stand Trial (CST) model, which identifies opportunities for diversion in the CST process.
  • Received silver-level recognition in the American Heart Association’s 2019 Workplace Health Achievement Index.
  • Released a suite of suicide prevention icons for free public use to advance conversations around suicide prevention.
  • Introduced quarterly chair massages as a new occupational wellness benefit to staff.

Top Accomplishments

Criminal Justice

  • Policy Research collaborated with the court and appointed court monitor in Washington State to provide support to the Trueblood Diversion Services Workgroup to assist with the implementation and expansion of the state’s Diversion Services Plan. These efforts culminated in a statewide summit, comprehensive final report, and set of recommendations to further guide the state’s work in responding to the settlement agreement.
  • SAMHSA’s GAINS Center hosted four Learning Collaboratives, which featured a hybrid of virtual and onsite convenings and engaged 31 state and local teams across 5 critical topics.
  • SAMHSA’s GAINS Center convened a joint Policy Academy with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in support of the Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, a national initiative that seeks to develop and model effective ways to reduce over-incarceration in American jails. The Policy Academy had over 100 participants across 6 states and 12 jurisdictions.
  • In April, Policy Research hosted a Behavioral Health Meeting as part of its work with the Safety and Justice Challenge in Houston, Texas.
  • Policy Research, in partnership with the Safety and Justice Challenge, has been providing technical assistance support to the City of New Orleans to delay or altogether eliminate the need to build a new mental health jail.
  • Policy Research has partnered with Minnehaha County, South Dakota, to advance the implementation of a Community Triage Center in downtown Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The Community Triage Center will move people with acute behavioral health needs out of the local jail and into a community-based service setting.

Systems Mapping

  • Policy Research developed a Competence to Stand Trial (CST) flowchart that identifies decision points in the CST process where criminal justice and behavioral health professionals can consider and create diversion opportunities for defendants. Nestled in the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM) at Intercepts 2 and 3, the flowchart will help communities and states understand how their competence process works, how this process fits into the larger criminal justice system context, and how they can identify opportunities for cross-systems collaboration and diversion.
  • SAMHSA’s Service Members, Veterans, and their Families (SMVF) TA Center provided onsite technical assistance to nine communities using its SMVF Crisis Intercept Map (CIM) for Suicide Prevention model.

Homelessness and Benefit Access

  • The SAMHSA SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) Technical Assistance (TA) Center celebrated 10 years of service and successfully rebid its contract for another 5 years.
  • The SOAR Online Course: Adult Curriculum celebrated 5 years with 8,672 successful course completions and the SOAR Online Course: Child Curriculum celebrated 1 year with 128 successful course completions.
  • In 2019, there were 4,273 approvals on SOAR-assisted initial SSI/SSDI applications. Decisions were received in an average of 108 days with an allowance rate of 63% (as compared to the initial allowance rate of 30% for all persons aged 18 to 64 who applied for SSI or SSDI in 2018).
  • The SAMHSA SOAR TA Center continues to encourage the growth of SOAR and criminal justice collaborations with targeted technical assistance, the publication of an article in American Jails Magazine, the SOAR Works for Individuals in the Criminal Justice System issue brief, and accompanying infographics.
  • Policy Research staff co-developed an online Income Maximization training course for VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) grantees.
  • Analyzing Relationships Between Disability, Rehabilitation, and Work (ARDRAW) graduate students took advantage of professional development opportunities to attend and present their ARDRAW research project findings at national conferences. Seven of the 11 students (64%) indicated that they had presented their research, and 4 indicated that they intended to submit their findings to peer-reviewed journals for publication.

Service Members, Veterans, and their Families

  • SAMHSA’s SMVF TA Center held 2 Policy Academies, 1 Implementation Academy, and 2 conferences in support of the SAMHSA/VA Governor’s and Mayor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among SMVF.
  • In addition, SAMHSA's SMVF TA Center conducted 42 site visits to 16 states in support of the Governor's and Mayor's Challenge.

Well-Being and Wellness

  • Policy Research enhanced its Well-Being portfolio with the release of several new resources, including several podcasts and fact sheets focused on the 8 Dimensions of Wellness, a 2-part animated video series focused on diabetes and homelessness, and a fact sheet highlighting strategies for supporting individuals with mental health conditions in the workplace.
  • Policy Research presented, “Creating Mentally Healthy Workplaces: Five Key Domains” at the Annual National Wellness Institute Conference in Kissimmee, Florida.

Youth Justice and Opportunity

  • The National Center for Youth Opportunity and Justice (NCYOJ) unveiled a new website with enhanced search functions and greater accessibility to the most current information to inform juvenile justice policy and practice.
  • NCYOJ convened 3 Mental Health Training for Juvenile Justice and 6 Crisis Intervention Teams for Youth train-the-trainer events, certifying 185 individuals to deliver these important trainings in their communities and states.
  • NCYOJ developed a train-the-trainer curriculum to help school officials develop local capacity to better respond to the needs of students with mental health conditions.
In 2019, Policy Research conducted over 310 site visits and trainings to 43 states and the District of Columbia!

A Selection of 2019 Contracts

  • Policy Research received a renewal of the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center contract. Through this renewal award, the SOAR TA Center will conduct learning communities, webinars, national SOAR Online Course cohorts, and Online Course Review Sessions, and will also develop a SOAR mentorship program.
  • Policy Research has contracted with the Trueblood Court Monitor's Office in Washington State to address issues related to competence to stand trial and jail diversion.
  • The National Alliance for Mental Illness-Georgia has contracted with Policy Research to conduct a series of Crisis Intervention Team Trainings for Youth throughout the State of Georgia to enhance law enforcement response to youth in crisis.
PRA fee-for-service travel in 2019

Selected Publications and Topics

As Stated by Criminal Justice Professionals: Perceptions and Barriers Related to Medication-Assisted Treatment

Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day 2019: What Can We Do?

Data Collection Across the Sequential Intercept Model: Essential Measures

National SOAR Outcomes: 2019

Promoting Reentry Success Through Increased Access to Social Security Benefits

Recommendations to Create a Supportive Workplace for Individuals with Mental Health Conditions

Suicide Prevention Icons

Selected Topics

  • Acute, Sub-acute, and Step-down Jail Populations
  • Competence to Stand Trial and Competency Restoration
  • Employee Mental Health and Workplace Well-Being
  • Medication-assisted Treatment in the Criminal Justice System
  • Preventing Suicide among SMVF
  • Safety and Justice Challenge Sites’ Behavioral Health Strategies
  • SOAR for Children
  • The Co-responder Model
  • The Sequential Intercept Model
  • Youth with Behavioral Health Needs in the Juvenile Justice System

2020: On the Horizon

Criminal Justice

  • Policy Research will release the results of several national evaluation efforts, including findings from our evaluation of 85 Sequential Intercept Mapping reports from workshops conducted across the country.
  • In June, Policy Research will host 2020 MacArthur Safety and Justice Challenge Behavioral Health Meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
  • Policy Research will convene a meeting of Peer Specialists working in the MacArthur Safety and Justice Challenge sites, to be held in St. Louis, Missouri, ahead of the biannual Safety and Justice Challenge Network meeting.
  • Policy Research will be releasing publications directly related to the work completed with the MacArthur Safety and Justice Challenge.
  • The Community Triage Center in Minnehaha County, South Dakota, will open its doors to the community in September/October 2020.

Systems Mapping

  • Based on its highly successful Sequential Intercept Model (SIM) Mapping Workshop, SAMHSA's GAINS Center will release a SIM Mapping Workshop designed to assist communities in developing comprehensive, cross-systems strategies for addressing the opioid crisis on a community-wide basis.
  • Policy Research will release a mapping and strategic planning workshop model based on its Competence to Stand Trial (CST) flowchart. This workshop will be used in communities to enhance the understanding of the local competence restoration process and to identify opportunities for cross-systems collaboration and diversion.
  • SAMHSA’s SMVF TA Center will engage 10 new communities in the SMVF Crisis Intercept Mapping for Suicide Prevention technical assistance.

Homelessness & Benefit Access

  • The SAMHSA SOAR TA Center is developing innovative models for providing virtual technical assistance, including a training cohort for case managers completing their first SSI/SSDI applications, a SOAR mentorship program, and advanced-practice learning communities.
  • The SAMHSA SOAR TA Center will continue expanding SOAR for Children and building partnerships with organizations serving unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness.
  • Policy Research staff will provide technical assistance to US. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Continua of Care as part of HUD’s relaunched Regional TA Teams.
  • ARDRAW is building a community of researchers! In the current cohort, 7 of the 13 students (54%) have previously received an ARDRAW grant. One student has received five grants total (three from ARDRAW and two from ARDRAW’s predecessor program, the Disability Determination Project). Two former grant recipients have gone on to become mentors. Finding ways to continue to build this community and encourage relationships among researchers remains a focus of ARDRAW.

Service Members, Veterans, and their Families

  • SAMHSA’s SMVF TA Center will continue supporting the SAMHSA/VA Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among SMVF by engaging 28 new states through 4 Policy Academies and 56 TA site visits.
  • SMVF TA Center will maintain momentum with prior Governor’s and Mayor’s Challenge teams through virtual and onsite technical assistance.

Well-Being and Wellness

  • Policy Research will print and disseminate the Take Charge! workbook, release the Best Practices for Creating Mentally Healthy Workplaces guide as a PRA Well-Being resource, and finalize the accompanying curriculum as a fee-for-service offering.

Youth Justice and Opportunity

  • The National Center for Youth Opportunity and Justice (NCYOJ) will release a new Research to Practice brief series, relating critical research and best practice information to professionals working with youth in contact with the juvenile justice system.
  • NCYOJ will analyze the impact of implementing a decision protocol to help juvenile probation officers integrate trauma screening and risk assessment results into an informed case plan.
  • NCYOJ will conclude a 4-year study on the effects of implementing 2 school-based interventions on school climate, culture, and safety.
Our 64 staff members live in 11 different states!


Photos by Rocco Farano and Nicole Vincent-Roller