The Union City project found that embedding new services within well-known community agencies already serving many Spanish-speaking clients was a useful innovation for gaining trust with the immigrant community. By placing access to information about behavioral health in more routinely used general agencies like the North Hudson primary care setting, potential CRRI clients were able to receive screening without having to go to a strange, new place.
Using screening to identify more than one service need in new client referrals helped to design a new approach that could help clients cope with long waiting lists for behavioral health services. After screening, a new client could be referred to a variety of available services. This allowed CRRI participants to benefit from other services during a vulnerable time while they were waiting to receive behavioral health supports.
A unique innovation of the Union City project was the provision of substance use services to the youth, on-site in the schools. Establishing new school-based substance use services was seen as a best-practice concept by the project staff and was also identified an excellent recruitment source for troubled families. This approach was tailored to meet the very unique needs of this community. Students known to be using drugs and not in treatment are subject to state mandated suspension. Substance use services in the schools allowed these students to stays in school because there was no waiting period for on-site services. This provided a tool to meet the long-standing challenge of lowering high school dropout rates. It aligned with a strongly held community value of providing support to help youth to complete high school.
Helping clients gain economic stability was empowering and receiving this job-seeking help was noted as less stigmatized than traditional behavioral health services. Union City project staff, similar to the CRRI programs in Lorain and Fall River, found that job-seeking help was more frequently sought because it was much less stigmatized than either behavioral health or substance use assistance.
Political support through the Mayor's Office was useful and was a new portal into services for families. It was important for the Mayor's staff to learn more about the CRRI initiative and it broadened the understanding of this important area and the benefit of outreach and screening as a tool to address stigma and bias as disincentives to help-seeking. However, obtaining adequate support from staff was difficult and one result of the project was that the Mayor's Office decided to establish a new Grant Coordinator so that future grant projects would have easier access to support from the Mayor's staff.