With the county struggling to hire mental-health practitioners to serve as alternative responders to calls that would otherwise be answered by armed law enforcement, the Board of Supervisors Tuesday instructed its staff to offer a wide range of incentives in hopes of attracting more job applicants.
“L.A. County has been working for the past few years to create a system where someone experiencing a mental health crisis gets the response they need when and where they need it,” board Chair Janice Hahn said. “Now we find ourselves in a situation where we have the infrastructure and funds in place, but we are having a hard time filling these mental health worker positions.
“These are impactful, life-changing jobs, but they are also difficult jobs, and we are competing with clinic positions and teleworking,” Hahn continued.
Hahn and Supervisor Kathryn Barger introduced the motion that was approved by the board Tuesday, April 4, instructing the director of Mental Health, CEO and director of Personnel to establish a pilot program to incentivize both the hiring and retaining field-based mental-health workers. Those workers serve on various alternative-response programs, including Psychiatric Mobile Response Teams, Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams, Mental Evaluation Teams, School Threat Assessment Response Team, and similar crucial service units.
The motion noted that the county “has had a very difficult time filling the roles for the mobile crisis teams,” despite some hiring incentives already in place, such as relaxed background checks, bonuses for field-based positions and a student loan-forgiveness program.
The motion approved Tuesday calls on county officials consider additional incentives such as signing bonuses, extending and increasing existing bonuses, offering shift differential pay, a sabbatical program, more flexible schedules for field workers and stipends for students interested in psych technician certificates.
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