Newsletter Article

New Initiatives Address County Workforce Shortages

Key staff: Lucero Robles, LCSW, Director, Quality Assurance

A new report released by the County Behavioral Health Directors Association found that, in a survey of 57 county and two city behavioral health agencies, more than 70% report difficulty recruiting LCSWs, LMFTs, LPCCs, psychiatrists, and registered nurses.

To assist county behavioral health departments in addressing this unprecedented workforce need, CalMHSA has created a range of new programs to fill the need for supervision, staffing, retention, and building a future workforce pipeline.

Project Cultivate: A Master’s Level Training Program

CalMHSA has partnered with Palo Alto University – a private, accredited, nonprofit university – on this exciting new program to grow the behavioral health workforce (thus its name, “Project Cultivate”). It will establish two cohorts of 25 county-designated staff to receive Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degrees. Details include:

  • Training emphasis on two areas: Marriage, Family and Child Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Program offered in a nine-quarter online format
  • Requires 700 hours of practicum/internship

Note that CalMHSA will host two virtual informational sessions for counties to learn more about Project Cultivate:

Remote Supervision

This new program provides virtual clinical supervision through a HIPAA-compliant platform to fill a gap for counties that have pre-licensed staff but do not have access to enough clinical supervisors. Counties will be able to purchase remote individual supervision hours for pre-licensed staff, and all supervisors in the program will complete a training to orient them to the Medi-Cal core client populations within county behavioral health. In addition to individual supervision, counties will have the option to purchase:

  • Triad supervision (two associates, one supervisor)
  • Group supervision (three to eight associates, one supervisor)

Temporary Clinical Staffing/Permanent Staff Recruitment

CalMHSA has contracted with a Joint Commission staffing agency based in San Diego whose primary focus is identifying staff to meet the needs of public psychiatric care facilities. This program will support county behavioral health departments with both temporary and permanent in-person and remote clinical staffing. Counties will be able to purchase clinical hourly staff time for 17 identified clinical positions, for both short-term and long-term program needs.

Training and Certification Courses

CalMHSA will increase its training and certification courses as needed. Depending on the type of course, training and certifications will be made available via a virtual meeting platform or recorded online at CalMHSA’s Learning Management System. Examples of potential trainings and certifications include substance use treatment, mental health, law and ethics, 5150, and care coordination.

Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialist Offerings

To continue to strengthen counties’ peer workforce, counties may elect to pay for certification fees for peer workers by purchasing items related to Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialist Certification.

CalMHSA Workforce Loan Repayment

CalMHSA will administer on behalf of counties a loan repayment program of $50,000 per recipient for individuals identified by counties and for positions that are hard to fill or retain. Recipients agree to a three-year service commitment.

For more information, email [email protected].

March 28, 2023