SARASOTA, Fla. – The two nonprofit agencies First Step of Sarasota and Coastal Behavioral Healthcare have announced a strategic unification of resources to better serve the community.
The nonprofits share a similar focus of providing addiction recovery programs and behavioral health services in Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto and Charlotte Counties. Together, a new combined organization will offer a regional and collaborative approach, and staff from both organizations will integrate to form one larger organization to ensure a better continuum of care for its clients.
“When someone is going through a crisis, there tend to be multiple family members involved and law enforcement at times,” said Jack Cox, a First Step of Sarasota board member. “It is imperative to provide a seamless treatment process for the next immediate steps. This consolidation will create efficiencies and bring the best possible programming to the individuals and families that we serve – with one main point of entry.”
As part of this collaborative effort, both organizations are currently undergoing a 9-month process to diligently strategize the allocation of resources and combine to create one larger organization to consolidate, provide more comprehensive services and improve efficiency.
“By combining our resources, we ensure there is a one-stop shop for mental health and addiction services in the region, and it will help further the “no wrong door” mission of our state leaders,” said Dave Beesley, president and chief executive officer of First Step of Sarasota.
The “no wrong door” theory aims to provide one point of entry for individuals suffering from addiction and mental health disorders and their families.
“There is an overall industry trend toward regional consolidation in order to better serve communities and families in crisis,” said Beesley. “There is a tangible benefit for families who are unsure how to navigate which services a loved one may need.”
Recently, First Step of Sarasota has experienced tremendous expansion and diversification with newly formed partnerships with the Sarasota County School Board, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Barancik Foundation, Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Manatee County and Sarasota County in creating new and innovative programming to better serve the needs of the community in the arenas of substance abuse treatment and mental health services. This expansion and the unification with Coastal Behavioral Healthcare sets the stage for additional and significant growth for the organization in the future, as well as enhances Coastal Behavioral Healthcare’s current successful programs, including The Compass Center and the Kreisman Center Crisis Stabilization Unit.
Located in Sarasota, the Kreisman Center Crisis Stabilization Unit provides emergency services 24 hours per day, 7 days per week to individuals age 18 and older who are experiencing a severe emotional or psychiatric crisis. The Compass Center, a residential treatment program for adolescents from ages 13 to 17, offers an evidence-based, therapeutic approach to those who have a drug or alcohol addiction and co-occurring mental health issues. The 4-acre campus in Punta Gorda serves residents throughout southwest Florida.
“A consistent challenge for organizations like ours has been to maintain high-quality services in the face of funding reductions, increasing costs and uncertainty in state and external processes,” said Kerry Kirschner, board chair of Coastal Behavioral Healthcare. “This alliance will allow us to mutually strengthen organizational practices, minimize overlap and ensure sustainability.”
When staff and resources are integrated, the organization will become the largest nonprofit behavioral healthcare agency in Sarasota County with a long-term goal of collaborating even further with varied local private and public entities to help combat and treat individuals suffering with addiction and mental health challenges.
About First Step of Sarasota
Since 1968, First Step of Sarasota has provided high-quality, affordable substance abuse treatment and prevention programs throughout southwest Florida. First Step is licensed by the state of Florida and is accredited by CARF.