An update on improving the Developmental Disabilities Crisis System

December 3, 2021
DHW Director Dave Jeppesen

Making progress toward Strategic Goal 2: Protect children, youth, and vulnerable adults 

As part of the department’s mission to strengthen the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans, we strive to consider what this means for all Idahoans, including those with developmental disabilities (DD).

A specific focus we have is how to best serve people with developmental disabilities who are experiencing a crisis, often due to complex needs that can include mental health or medical needs. When these individuals are in crisis, it is essential that they receive services that are person-centered, trauma-informed, and delivered in the least restrictive environment possible. We believe we can improve the Idaho crisis system that serves Idaho’s adults with DD.

The Developmental Disabilities Crisis System Improvement Project is well under way to establish a long-term system of care by July 1, 2022, for people with developmental disabilities who exhibit severe behaviors. 

We are making important changes to care for those individuals who must be treated outside of the community so their safety and the community’s safety can be maintained. These changes include the creation of a new assessment, observation, and stabilization center and step-down housing on the existing Southwest Idaho Treatment Center (SWITC) campus.

While the project includes new buildings and services on the existing SWITC campus, the new system of care will be much broader in scope. It is also designed to help maintain individuals in their communities. The project includes:

  • The development of new teams who specialize in mental health and DD
  • Enhanced coordination of care for adults in crisis
  • Capacity building of providers who serve people with complex needs

The project team includes DHW staff from the Divisions of Family and Community Services, Behavioral Health, Medicaid, and Licensing and Certification. The team works closely with an advisory board made up of representatives from the provider community, law enforcement, Idaho Legislature, courts, advocates, and families.

This work is described in the department’s strategic plan, in Strategic Objective 2.3. The team has implemented a communications plan with staff and key stakeholders to support the initial implementation. Over the next few months, the team will begin the launch of new treatment model design elements and will present a budget request to the Legislature to fund the new treatment model.

Full implementation of the new model of care is expected in 2024, and more work on this project will be shared in our annual strategic plan updates and other communication channels. We are honored to share our work with you as we move forward in our strategic goals. You can follow our work and read more about our strategic plan on our website.

I hope you all have a safe and healthy weekend.

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