Merced County Times Newspaper
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Merced County Probation awarded $2.5M to support community services

The Merced County Probation Department is slated to receive $2.5 million in grant funds to create a “community alternatives to incarceration” program.

The funding comes from Senate Bill 843 (2016). Included in that legislation is a competitive grant program intended to expand access to jail and prison diversion programs and services, while simultaneously creating or expanding facilities aimed at treating mental health issues, substance use disorder, and trauma.

The Merced County Probation Department plans to utilize the funds to remodel a building in the City of Merced that will house the Pathways to Wellness Program. The Pathways to Wellness Program is specifically geared toward programs and services for pretrial diversion, targeting individuals who have mental health or substance use disorders.

The Pathways to Wellness Program will include a dedicated clinical team that will provide mental health services, substance use disorder treatment, intensive case management, restorative justice, job skills training/employment services, and housing related support.

Chief Probation Officer Kalisa Rochester noted in her proposal, “The Pathways to Wellness Program is a clear option for those individuals who eventually become enmeshed in a cycle of costly justice system involvement. The framework (for this Program) involves all community partners and justice stakeholders to provide evidence-based programming to forward the dual goals of individual recovery and public safety risk reduction.”

The Merced County Probation Department will hold a competitive bidding process via a Request for Proposal (RFP) to handle the project management for the building remodel.