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CSG Expanding First Response Assessment Tool

The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center and Alkermes, Inc. have released the Expanding First Response Assessment Tool, which will help communities determine where they are in planning, implementing, and sustaining community responder programs that position health professionals and community members trained in crisis response as first responders. A complementary component of the groundbreaking Expanding First Response toolkitreleased in 2021, the tool provides users with a summary of their results and resources to aid their progress or amplify their own community responder program success story.  

“Community responder programs have the potential to create a public safety system built around care instead of unnecessarily punitive responses,” said Ashtan Towles, senior project analyst in the Behavioral Health Division of the CSG Justice Center. “We have worked to build the Expanding First Response Assessment Tool to help practitioners across the country determine what they need to successfully develop and sustain such programs.” 

Designed to be a quick and easy tool to take, the Expanding First Response Assessment Tool offers users five options for assessing their progress. Once selected, each assessment takes users less than 15 minutes to complete. And yet, it can be a key component for success as jurisdictions reimagine their approach to public safety and invest in community responder programs.  

“The assessment tool provides valuable insight and practical information for areas exploring alternative responses,” said Carleigh Sailon, Denver STAR operations manager, who recently had a chance to demo the assessment tool for her program. “It will cover all your bases and guide you and your agency in involving everyone—from community members to stakeholders—in your development and implementation process.”  

The assessment tool covers topics such as community engagement, needs assessment, program staffing, call triaging, use of data to inform decision-making, safety and wellness, financial sustainability, and legislative and policy strategies. Tool guidance can range from information on best practices drawn from research to online resources and connections to existing community responder program managers and staff.  The Expanding First Response Assessment Tool is supported by the Alkermes Inspiration Grants Program, which is funded by Alkermes, Inc.–a global company funding impactful nonprofit organizations that support people affected by addiction, serious mental illness, and other adversities. To view the tool, please visit: https://csgjusticecenter.org/publications/expanding-first-response/assessment-tool/