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DHS News Newsletter June 2009 

Justice-Related Services Director wins award for innovative approach to OBH services

June 2009

Amy M. Kroll, Director of Justice Related Services (JRS) in the DHS Office of Behavioral Health (OBH), was honored on June 5 at the Staunton Farm Foundation annual meeting as the 2009 recipient of the Albert B. Craig Jr. Award.

The annual award, given by Staunton Farm Foundation in memory of the man who was president of the foundation from 1985 to 1991, is presented to “people who have challenged society to think in fresh ways about behavioral health problems and solutions; who have forged new paths (whether through uncommon partnerships or new ways of serving people with behavioral health issues); or who have invented a product or process that has helped to improve behavioral health.”

According to her nomination, since beginning work at DHS 14 years ago, Kroll and other dedicated staff are credited with “embarking on the development of a full spectrum of diversion and support programs for persons with mental illness and/or co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders who encounter the criminal justice system. Through her advocacy, tenacity and leadership, Justice-Related Services has grown from one staff person (Ms. Kroll) working with the Allegheny County Jail to a staff of almost 30, including Justice-Related Teams working in Diversion, Support, State Support, Mental Health Court, and Drug Court.

“[Kroll] and staff conducted outreach to the courts, law enforcement, the behavioral health provider system, and most importantly the individuals that are served, as well as their families. The partnerships that have been established over the years have resulted in the creation of diversion and support programs that start at the time of a police encounter to final release from prison or jail and re-integration. 

“[Kroll]’s singularity of force has inspired not only her staff and colleagues, but judges, lawyers, providers, state officials and has also garnered national recognition. Indeed, the JRS State Support program was a winner of the prestigious Innovations in American Government award from the Ash Institute at Harvard University in 2005.”

Kroll gives thanks and credit to her supportive staff and DHS Director Marc Cherna and OBH administrators, without whom she could not have achieved such success.

Manual for replication

As a condition of winning the Innovations in American Government award, the JRS State Support program was called upon to help other communities replicate a similar program. JRS and the DHS Office of Community Relations worked together to create Justice-Related State Support Services: A Manual for Replication.

The manual is posted on the DHS website at: www.alleghenycounty.us/dhs/justicerelatedservices.aspx 
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