Poulsbo approves new position within behavioral health program

During its first meeting of December, the Poulsbo City Council approved a new position within the Behavioral Health Outreach Program, better known as the “navigator” program.

The navigator program is a multi-city effort that gives law enforcement access to a behavioral health navigator who contacts individuals struggling with behavioral health, mental health or chemical dependency issues, and works to connect them with social services and treatment.

It’s important to note that the navigators themselves cannot provide treatment or services, they are merely a resource to connect those in need of services and treatment to the appropriate facilities.

Program manager Kim Hendrickson approached the council with a request to approve the creation of a new position, “navigator lead,” and the reassignment of a current navigator to this position.

“By doing this change we’re giving our administrative services manager in the police department some added assistance in overseeing the operational aspects of the navigator program. It has nothing to do with our scope [of work] it just relieves some of the pressure on Kelly Ziemann and the police department,” Hendrickson said.

The navigator that is being recommended for the new position is Kelsey Lynch, an experienced social worker who has been with the Navigator Program the longest of the program’s three navigators.

Hendrickson additionally provided the city council with an update on the program budget and the city’s $60,000 contribution to the program.

The amended budget for 2019 is $475,342 with the bulk of the contributions coming from Kitsap County which contributed $355,342.

“For that money what we have been able to do is provide three behavioral health navigators to four different cities in Kitsap County and support the administrative work that goes on behind the scenes to make the program operational,” Hendrickson said.

Hendrickson told the council that the navigator program will be slightly increasing its budget in 2020 to $513,858, however, Poulsbo’s contribution of $60,000 will remain the same. She noted that they would like to use these added funds to hire a specialist in substance use and abuse disorders as a navigator.