2023-2024 Legislative Agenda
One of the highest priorities of CROA members is for CROA to have an effective voice in Olympia. Co-response services, like other behavioral health and crisis response services, require state support through funding streams and favorable regulation. Last session, CROA worked with legislators to secure $2 million dollars for fire-based co-response programs and training. In 2023-2024, we will be promoting a bill that establishes fire, police, and 911 dispatch based co-response as a critical part of the behavioral health/crisis response system, increases liability protection for agencies doing this work, and creates new funding streams for programs, workforce development, and training.
SB 5644-providing quality behavioral co-response services-passed in the Washington legislature on March 4. This little bill (the final text was just over 2 pages) will have a tremendous effect on co-response programs throughout the state and the behavioral healthcare system.
5644 creates a partnership between the Co-Responder Outreach Alliance and the University of Washington School of Social Work to develop training for co-response teams (fire/EMS and police) and promote skills and best practices. Funds are provided to hold a 2023 co-response conference and to evaluate co-response programs in Washington State. In addition, 5644 will help align co-response with the work of DCRs, alternative response teams, and mobile crisis teams that do not include first responders-critical as 988 is implemented and changes are made to our crisis response system.
5644 became law in 2022 with overwhelming bipartisan support (49-0 in the Senate, 96-0 in the House.). CROA appreciates Senators Wagoner and Frockt’s leadership on this issue–and the fact that D’s and R’s came together to support first responders and co-responders who are helping vulnerable residents.