What are the First Steps?

Become Familiar with the Guidelines: Information Notice 08-2

Here are some suggested ideas and tools to help develop a Regional Partnership. Activities need to support the strategies and requirements in DMH Information Notice 08-20. 

As described in the Information Notice, Regional Partnerships are an important workforce strategy to:  

  • Assist the Public Mental Health System in its efforts to expand outreach to multicultural communities;
  • Increase the diversity of the workforce;
  • Promote consumer and family member employment;
  • Reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, and;
  • Promote the use of web-based technologies and distance learning techniques.

From Information Notice 08-20:

Regional Partnerships are groups of County approved individuals and/or organizations within geographical proximity that act as an employment and education resource for the Public Mental Health System. The group may include educational and employment service entities, individuals and/or entities within the Public Mental Health System, and individuals and/or entities that have an interest in the Public Mental Health System, such as county staff, mental health service providers, clients, and clients’ family members. Regional Partnerships may often cross county boundaries, and can serve as a collaborative network in which multiple Counties can plan for and eventually implement activities to obtain and share Workforce Education and Training resources.

Regional Partnerships help counties, educational institutions, and other stakeholders by:

  • Identifying areas of needs that county mental health systems have in common. These may be training needs, educational program needs or structural needs.
  • Providing a forum for discussion policy implementation issues.
  • Identifying best practices within the region.
  • Providing training, speakers or other events that serve a regional need.
  • Providing an additional funding source to meet county workforce development needs.
  • Developing strategies or projects that counties may have wanted to develop with their WET plan but are more appropriate for a regional focus.
  • Serving as a resource for available job and internship opportunities.

Determine how Regional Partnership Funding should be Budgeted (including decisions about Sub-Regions)

Regional Partnership funding is budgeted at $1.8 million for three years: $600,000 per fiscal year for each of the five CMHDA regions for staffing, infrastructure and regional projects. Current funding encompasses fiscal year 2008-09 through fiscal year 2010-11. The application for funding, Information Notice 08-20, is very straightforward with minimal budget requirements. While the application does not require a detailed line-item budget, the following overall budget categories should be considered for planning purposes:

Personnel: funding considerations/line items:

  • Regional Partnership Coordinator(s)
  • Administrative Support Staff (depending on size of partnership)
  • Benefits

Facility and operating costs:

  • Occupancy: rent, utilities, etc.
  • Technology: laptop computers, smartphones,>
  • Travel costs: regional travel, meetings in Sacramento, trainings, conferences, etc.
  • Website development. (CIBHS has developing a Regional Partnership website.)
  • Project expenses: This is an area that will become more concrete as the Regional Partnership develops. There may already be some clear priorities established. The power of Regional Partnerships is also the diversity of experiences that different partners bring to the table. As the Coordinator becomes more familiar with the needs of the region, strategies and projects will likely emerge. Examples might be as simple as developing a two-page newsletter or as complex as a distance learning project with a local college or university.
  • Consultants

Funding for additional years (beyond fiscal year 2010-11) will be determined by the overall effectiveness of each Regional Partnership as determined by the MHSA government partners: DMH, CMHDA, the Planning Council and the MHSA Oversight & Accountability Commission. This will include the accomplishment of specific objectives as identified in each Regional Partnership’s application to DMH. Regional Partnerships are also strongly encouraged to procure outside funding for ongoing sustainability (grants, contracts, etc.).

Identify which County will serve as the Fiscal Sponsor for the Partnership and Hire the Regional Partnership Coordinator

As outlined in Info Notice 08-21, funding for Regional Partnerships will be awarded to one “host” county (from among the five geographic regions) as mutually agreed upon by the local regional mental health directors. Once the application is approved by DMH the host county’s existing MHSA Agreement is amended to add the new funds. That county then becomes responsible for any reporting to DMH.

When considering hiring a Coordinator, remember that the individual in this position will have a regional, rather than an individual county focus, which needs to be factored into the job description, human resource requirements, and reporting structure. The hiring entity will provide salary, benefits, office space and infrastructure support. This situation can be flexible, depending on needs.

The new Coordinator positions will require a different skill set than many existing mental health positions/classifications: excellent strategic planning, communication, facilitation and project management skills; an understanding of collaborative processes; experience working with diverse stakeholder groups and a great deal of personal initiative. The coordinator needs to be comfortable and competent working with local, regional and state leaders. CIBHS has developed a coordinator job description that is included in Part IV, Resources.

  • Staff will need to have a local, direct report or supervisor – depending on a county’s size this could be the mental health director, deputy director, program director, etc. Whoever is the direct report also needs access to all the county mental health directors in the regional partnership.
  • The Regional Partnership may decide to contract with another agency to manage the work.
  • The Coordinator will also report, in a broader sense, to a leadership or Steering Committee of the Regional Partnership (see Section C).
  • Regional Partnership Coordinators will meet regularly with the CIBHS and CMHDA workforce staff for ongoing training, sharing and support in specific areas, such as collaborative work and educational partnerships; ongoing technical assistance; and informational updates on statewide workforce initiatives, current projects and new opportunities.

Organizational Considerations for Regional Partnership Offices

When planning the Regional Partnership, consider how and where staff will work. Options may include:

  • Physically housed in a county or CBO setting – existing space and infrastructure add to the practicality of this option; this would increase funding for travel and projects.
  • Virtual office/home office with access to county facilities for meeting rooms, etc.
  • Blending/combination of the first two options.