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Changes to services for developmentally disabled
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Last week we examined the Department of Justice settlement and how the state planned to comply and improve care for the developmentally disabled and chronically mental ill citizens. 

Those services include:

 • Crisis line:

The Georgia Crisis and Access Line (GCAL) is staffed with professional social workers and counselors 24 hours per day, every day to assist those with urgent and emergency needs. The number is 1-800-715-4225.

ACT (Assertive Community Treatment) teams

: Each mobile team is comprised of eight professionals who provide a wide variety of comprehensive community-based services to support independent living.


case management teams: Offer individual support and care coordination to increase access to community-based services, skills building, and rehabilitative supports.

Supported employment:Provides vocational assessment, rapid job search, competitive job placement, support to maintain employment, benefits counseling, and rehabilitative support.

Community support teams:Rural, community-based teams that are consumer-driven and recovery-oriented. They provide a wide range of services including assessment, treatment, nursing, social work, substance abuse, crisis intervention, referral and linkage, and peer support.

Crisis stabilization units:These are community-based, short stay programs (1-10 days) that provide assessment, crisis stabilization, therapeutic education, and referrals to appropriate services.

Peer support services:Programs are led by certified peer specialists who promote self-directed recovery and support individuals in developing and attaining individualized life, recovery, and wellness goals.

Crisis service centers:These are community-based, 24/7 walk-in centers that provide assessment, stabilization, and referral to services.

Family supports:An array of goods and services aimed at providing families with individualized support services and/or goods needed to continue the care of a family member with developmental disabilities.

Community waivers: Waivers allow the individual to be moved from a hospital setting to a community setting.

Crisis respite homes:Brief periods (20 days) of crisis respite, support services, and linkage to treatment and other community services.

Education:Program created for judges and law enforcement officials to provide them with information on mental illness and developmental disabilities.


Impact of changes on individuals

The settlement is significant because when fully implemented, it will change the scope of how individuals with mental health or developmental disabilities receive services in Georgia.

Prior to the community-based service system, if an individual experienced a crisis, they would go directly to the hospital. Once admitted, they would receive care in an institutionalized setting and then be sent back home. As the settlement is implemented, individuals will have more options and improved continuity of care. For example, if an individual is experiencing a crisis, he/she can call GCAL (Georgia Crisis and Access Line) and speak with a clinical professional who will recommend the proper services for them. Clinicians recognize the wide spectrum of disorders and/or disabilities and are able to tailor services to the individual.


Next week:How Georgia will maintain compliance.


For more information on the settlement agreement and how Georgia is improving access to services for individuals please visit the Department’s Web site:


I may be reached at

234 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334

(404) 656-5038 (phone)

(404) 657-7094 (fax)

E-mail at

Or call toll-free at

1-800-367-3334 day or night

Reidsville office: (912) 557-3811