What is ICRA?
The International Co-Responder Alliance is a non-profit 501(c)3 charity focused on:
Come Join ICRA's Monthly Virtual Sessions -
The Co-Responder Coffee Break.
The Coffee Break is an opportunity to share knowledge and network with ICRA members through presentations, expert panels, and group conversations.
“Co-Response” means different things in different jurisdictions. At its core, though, is a belief that partnering first responders with behavioral health professionals is an effective way to respond to behavioral health crises and other situations involving unmet behavioral health needs. The first co-response teams, established in the 1970’s and 1980’s, paired police officers with mental health professionals to respond to crisis calls. Over the past 30 years, co-response has evolved to include fire and emergency medical service based programs, hybrid teams of police/fire/EMS, and include clinicians, substance use professionals, case managers, and peers. These teams still respond to crisis calls but have expanded to perform other functions like follow up services, case management, outreach to homeless populations, transportation, and resource navigation.
While the forms of co-response have changed, the goals of the approach are consistent. First responders are often the only field based responders for individuals struggling with mental illness, mental health issues, substance use, and other behavioral health issues. Co-response aims to de-escalate these situations, improve the quality of interactions, promote safety, and facilitate access to care. An emerging body of evidence suggests that these programs reduce arrests, incarceration, and emergency room visits while effectively connecting people to needed care. Further, co-response teams often serve to make the sum of the system greater than its parts by promoting care coordination among agencies, health care, and the criminal justice system.
Co-responder programs have a 50 year history, but many programs were launched in the last 5-10 years. There is a high demand, nationally and internationally, for opportunities to exchange ideas, share best practices, and prepare for new demands. ICRA is proud to be a resource for jurisdictions exploring co-response, and agencies looking to improve their programs.
You can read more about the concept of co-response, and its many variations, in this paper by Policy Research, Inc. and the National League of Cities.