Behavioral Health Tax
In December 2020, the Pierce County Council passed Ordinance No. 2020-138s authorizing the collection of a 1/10th of one percent sales tax to fund behavioral health and therapeutic court programs within Pierce County. This tax, allowed under RCW 82.14.460, will provide funds for mental health and substance use disorder treatment. Treatment dollars will be targeted toward services not covered by Medicaid, private insurance, or other local or federal grants.
The county began collecting the tax on July 1, 2021. Ordinance 2020-138s required Human Services to work with the Pierce County Behavioral Health Advisory Board to develop a Behavioral Health Improvement Plan. This plan will help identify gaps and needs in the community in order to set funding priorities. The Pierce County Council approved funding for some behavioral health programs while the plan was being developed. These programs are outlined in the Current Programs link below.
The Behavioral Health Improvement Plan (BHIP) was approved by the Pierce County Council on December 7th, 2021.
The BHIP reflects Pierce County’s vision of a community where those with behavioral health needs will have access to a full range of innovative, effective, and culturally competent services, including:
- Community education
- Prevention and early intervention
- Outpatient and community-based services
- Crisis and inpatient services
- Services for justice-involved populations
- Housing supports for those with behavioral health needs
- Rural behavioral health services
- Behavioral health services for underserved populations
- Programs addressing the behavioral health workforce shortage
View data on how the Behavioral Health Tax funds are being used by clicking here.
View data on service delivery and providers funded by the Behavioral Health Tax by clicking here.
Programs currently funded under the BH Tax include:
- AAPI Mental Health Community Education & Mental Health Vouchers (Asia Pacific Cultural Center)
- Outpatient & Community Based Services (Asian Counseling Treatment Services)
- Preventing BH Crises for Autism and Developmental Disabilities (Behavior Bridges)
- Outreach & Relationships (Catholic Community Services)
- Lakewood Youth Wellness Project (Communities in Schools of Lakewood)
- Integrated Behavioral Health Program Expansion (Community Health Care)
- Assisted Outpatient Treatment (Comprehensive Life Resources)
- Behavioral Health Shelter Service (Comprehensive Life Resources)
- School Connect (Comprehensive Life Resources)
- Jail Diversion Program (formerly known as Trueblood) (Greater Lakes Mental Healthcare)
- Healing with the Herd (Horses Guiding Humans Foundation)
- Culturally Attuned Counseling for Humanitarian Immigrants (Lutheran Community Services)
- Mary Bridge Children's YES Pierce County (Mary Bridge Children's Hospital)
- Expanded Therapeutic Court Services (Multicultural Child and Family Hope Center)
- Co-Responder Program (consists of Trueblood responders) (Pierce County Sheriff)
- Parent Resilience Program-Pierce County Expansion (Perinatal Support Washington)
- Wrap Around Mental Health Court (Pierce County Alliance)
- Pierce County Therapeutic Case Management (Seneca FOA)
- Pierce County Wraparound with Intensive Services (WISe) (Seneca FOA)
- Building Mental Wellness through Resiliency Youth Program (Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department)
- Opioid Task Force: Fentanyl Awareness Campaign (Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department)
- Nurse Family Partnership (Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department)
- Teen Mental Health First Aid (Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department)
- The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic (Valley Cities Counseling and Consultation)
- LGBTQ Youth Drop-In Center and Services (Youth Oasis)
Behavioral Health Workforce Report
In the summer of 2022, Pierce County Human Services requested a report to assess existing behavioral health and mental health provider capacity and determine workforce development and behavioral health system needs.
As identified in the County’s 2021 Behavioral Health Improvement Plan, the lack of an adequate behavioral health workforce is a significant barrier to accomplishing these goals. Lack of access to behavioral health services has been a growing problem locally and nationally. The main reason for this lack of access is a shortage of counselors available to do the work. Community behavioral health agencies go months or years with vacant positions because they are unable to attract counselors in a competitive labor market.
The workforce study provides recommendations across an array of target areas, including education, training, supervision, salary increases (funding increases in Medicaid), and innovative approaches to staffing.