First Step of Sarasota receives $4-million grant to become Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic

Designation will reinforce the services the nonprofit already is providing to those with mental health and substance abuse problems

Image from the First Step of Sarasota website

First Step of Sarasota has won a two-year, $4-million grant from the federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to assist First Step in becoming a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC), First Step has announced.

First Step already has achieved compliance with the criteria of the 2014 Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA), First Step notes in a news release. The criteria fall into six areas, the release adds: available and easily accessible services, staffing, care coordination, quality and other reporting, scope of services, organizational authority, accreditation and governance.

The SAMHSA website explains, “The CCBHCs represent an opportunity for states to improve the behavioral health of their citizens by: providing community-based mental and substance use disorder services; advancing integration of behavioral health with physical health care; assimilating and utilizing evidence-based practices on a more consistent basis; and promoting improved access to high quality care. Care coordination is the linchpin holding these aspects of CCBHC care together and ensuring CCBHC care is, indeed, an improvement over existing services.”

The website adds, “PAMA is clear that, regardless of condition, CCBHCs are to provide services to all who seek help, but it is anticipated the CCBHCs will prove particularly valuable for individuals with serious mental illness (SMI), those with severe substance use disorders, children and adolescents with serious emotional disturbance (SED), and those with co-occurring mental, substance use or physical health disorders. Those who are most in need of coordinated, integrated quality care will receive it from CCBHCs.”

Being designated a CCBHC will reinforce the services that First Step already provides to the community in regard to mental health and substance use disorders, the release adds.

CCBHC certification will allow First Step of Sarasota to strengthen its partnerships with other local nonprofits, medical communities, law enforcement agencies, judicial systems and schools “to provide the necessary support and outreach services that are part of the designation,” the release points out.

First Step of Sarasota finalized its “strategic unification” with Coastal Behavioral Healthcare on July 1, 2020, the release notes. The union of the two agencies will lead to better solutions for individuals with mental health and addiction disorders, the release says.

First Step of Sarasota has seven outpatient offices, four residential programs for adults and youth, a crisis stabilization unit and detox/addiction receiving facility, and 15 community outreach, prevention and intervention programs for adults and youth. First Step of Sarasota has 276 licensed beds as it serves Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and De Soto counties, the release adds.