Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Dr. Rivera awarded competitive grant from Alaska Dept. of Health and Social Services to evaluate Chronic Inebriate Anti-Recidivism Treatment Program - Permanent Supportive Housing Program

Dr. Marny Rivera, Justice faculty, was recently awarded a competitive research grant from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services to evaluate Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) and Intensive Case Management (ICM) programs that are part of an anti-recidivism pilot project for the chronically homeless population in the Anchorage area, many of whom have co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders. The pilot project is unique in the provision of intensive community-based treatment services in addition to permanent and supportive housing.

Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) is a client-centered, recovery-oriented behavioral health service delivery model that has received substantial empirical support for reducing psychiatric hospitalizations, facilitating community living, and enhancing recovery for persons with serious mental illness.  ACT is designed specifically for persons who have the most severe and persistent mental illnesses, and who historically have not benefited from traditional outpatient programs.  ACT in Anchorage will prioritize treatment toward individuals with a history of chronic homelessness and interactions with the criminal justice system, and/or high use of psychiatric emergency services.

Intensive Case Management (ICM) is a service delivery model in which case managers, working in teams, provide intensive community-based treatment, coordinate with other service providers, and develop strong therapeutic relationships with individuals.  This approach helps individuals get access to needed treatment and supports necessary to achieve stability and an improved quality of life.  ICM in Anchorage will serve individuals who have been identified as top users of the Anchorage Safety Center (ASC) for public intoxication.

Both service models are based on stable housing as the platform for recovery using the Housing First approach, which minimizes barriers to housing entry by not excluding an individual from services or housing based on sobriety; this ensures that individuals who are in the most need of services are prioritized.

Using these two approaches, the goal is to see housing stability, decreased use of acute care settings, reduced interactions with the criminal justice system, and an improved quality of life for the individuals served through these programs.  

Dr. Rivera's evaluation will provide an important quantitative and qualitative assessment of how these evidence-based best practices - ACT and ICM - will work here in Alaska.