S.B. County Targets Black Kids Resilience
By Dianne Anderson
A fresh round of $1.7 million targeting resilience in Black children and youth within San Bernardino County for more mental health service is coming soon for some in-the-know Black nonprofits, provided they get their proposals in on time.
The deadline to respond to the RFP for the San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health is April 24.
To help boost the number of African American contractors, Dr. April Clay said her outreach is guiding Black-led nonprofits in both San Bernardino and Riverside county behavioral health departments.
Last December, San Bernardino County DBH commissioners reached out to her advisory to learn how the county is addressing behavioral health services in the Black community.
At that meeting, Dr. April Clay said two commissioners raised concerns about funding discrepancies, and why the data show outreach services to Blacks are not proportionate to their representation in the county.
“If we have 10% of the population is African American/Black, why would you only have one particular funding source? Why would PEI (Prevention and Early Intervention) data only reflect [a small percentage] served? It was a very good question,” said Clay, chair of the San Bernardino County DBH Cultural Competence Advisory Committee, which includes 14 culturally specific subcommittees.
Dr. Clay, executive director of Clay Counseling Foundation, doesn’t work for the county.
To access county contracts and funding, she said award recipients do not have to be Black-led, but she said the Black community deserves cultural competency and relevancy.
Her advisory group had also been meeting with Riverside County Behavioral Health, RUHealth, to shed light on how that county is meeting the needs of the Black community. The group proposed forming collaborations with San Bernardino County Black nonprofits to help impact the low showing for Blacks receiving services.
“One of the things they brought up [for both counties] is the need to have Black providers and Black community organizations. There are too few that get contracts,” said Clay, Ed.D., also a family therapist and K-12 counseling credentialed.
So far, she has brought ten Black organizations together, six from San Bernardino County, to strengthen dialogue, learn to compete, win and keep the contracts.
“[It’s] to increase the knowledge of county funding available for services, and procure funds to provide the services because they’re already providing the services. It’s just that the funds are going to other organizations,” she said.
She is encouraged to see grassroots nonprofits participating, like the African American Health Coalition, to compete for this round of funding.
Under the advisory, the goal is cross-county collaboration to expand Black organization participation in both counties, not just with the recent round of bidder funding. But she said it’s important to get them ready to apply.
“We need to give organizations a chance. That’s the goal to get as many of us at the table as possible,” she said.
Last week, San Bernardino County DBH hosted a bidders conference. That information and PowerPoint is available on their purchasing website.
The Resilience Promotion in African American Children program has allocated $1,700,000 per fiscal year July-June, with funding for the program through the Mental Health Services Act.
In an email, San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health said any agency that can demonstrate the ability to serve the target population as described in the Request for Proposals (RFP) may apply for this RFP.
San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health receives 20% of the local allocated funds for PEI, which has 15 different programs throughout San Bernardino County. The contract size awarded is based on the number of successful proposals, the areas proposed to be served, and anticipated number of unduplicated participants to be served.
They noted that successful services must be provided in culturally appropriate settings, incorporating African American philosophies and traditions as a platform from which to offer mental health educational programs, early intervention services and promote resiliency in African American children and youth ages 5-18 and their families.
Linda Hart, founder and CEO of the African American Health Coalition, said the contract process in San Bernardino County DBH has been unfair and restrictive. In this funding round, the County’s DBH designates $24.5 million to address PEI specifically targeting resiliency of Black children, but she said the allocation consistently misses the mark.
Based on the PEI’s report, the allocation for Resilience Promotion in African-American Children calls for targeting Black children. However, the report states that in prior rounds of funding for 2018-19, only 21% were served. In 2019-20, only 16% served, and in 2021 only 6% served.
Last summer, Hart publicly voiced concerns at a San Bernardino County DBH commission meeting over why Mental Health Services Act PEI funding and outreach was hardly reaching the Black community.
Hart, who works with Riverside University Health Systems, Behavioral Health PEI, reaches about 1,500 annually with unduplicated contacts in Riverside County’s Black community with in-person mental health presentations.
She takes issue with San Bernardino County DBH description of qualifications to apply for the recent $1.7 million, and their reference that any agency with the capacity to serve the target population qualifies for funding.
In requesting the data, she asked if the outreach to the Black community was proportionate to the Black population, but was told that services were extremely limited.
“So what was their excuse when the Native American [organization] only served 1% of the African American population and they received the contract, again. What happened there?” she said.
Hart questioned the low number of mental health presentations and outreach conducted in the Black community, which is always overwhelmingly represented in health impacts. She said that reaching the community requires more than handing out simple brochures.
Allocations also need clarification, she said, especially where there is a dire need. Based on the numbers of Black representation within the general county population, she said it appears that San Bernardino DBH is falling very short.
PEI is now at $24.5 million. With 11% Black children, she said the payout should be over $2.5 million.
“Who allocates how much the Black community gets? Is it a committee decision? Some kind of matrix? Who decides what amount of funding goes for which program?” she asks. “If they are going off the population, then those numbers should be higher.”
San Bernardino County requires that vendors be registered in ePro to respond to RFP. The public can access open bids, including RFPs, through the link to ePro via the Purchasing website.
For SB County DBH Purchasing to bid, see https://wp.sbcounty.gov/purchasing/
To see the RFP, http://bit.ly/3lIfqNi
To review the MHSA Annual Update for 2022-23, PEI, see http://bit.ly/3JNgOGw
To review the Cultural Competency Plan 2022 http://bit.ly/3nidVG2
For more information on the advisory, https://www.claycounselingsolutions.com/