Department Awards Grants to Support Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce


The California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) has awarded more than $23 million in funding to 81 nonprofit, tribal, and county-operated behavioral health providers to expand the state’s behavioral health workforce.

The Behavioral Health Recruitment and Retention (BHRR) grant will support organizations in developing comprehensive strategies for recruiting, onboarding, engaging, and retaining behavioral health staff. The program also prioritizes organizations that serve underserved and diverse communities.

Each entity will receive up to $350,000 to enhance and build its behavioral health substance use disorder (SUD) workforce, focusing on resources to expand the prevention, treatment, and recovery workforce for those who work with individuals with or at risk of developing an opioid use disorder.

The BHRR grant will support providers in 24 counties throughout every region of California, including essential support in rural areas. Kevin Caskey, the Director of Behavioral Healthcare and SUD Treatment Services for El Dorado Community Health Centers, stated, “The BHRR grant funding is essential to our organization as far as recruitment and retention for top talent in behavioral health and SUD services in our rural county.”

One New Heartbeat, a nonprofit organization committed to improving the accessibility of behavioral health peer support services in California, is excited to begin implementing the grant. The BHRR grant is going to be so helpful in supporting us in developing a strategic plan and focus on organization development to take us to the next level,” said One New Heartbeat Executive Director Waynette Brock. “It will help us examine our strengths and weaknesses and find ways to tighten up to sustain ourselves going forward. Ultimately, we just want to do the work, so we need to be sure we can sustain [our programs].”

Caskey continued, “By receiving these funds, we will be able to strategically develop our behavioral health workforce and expand access to persons served by Medi-Cal in our rural community. I applaud DHCS for extending funds to behavioral health providers to support our sustainability in the long run.”

The BHRR is a critical investment in California’s behavioral health workforce. DHCS’ workforce initiatives complement the larger healthcare workforce efforts of the California Health Care Access and Information Agency to build a more diverse and resilient workforce that is better equipped to meet the needs of our state’s residents.”

The BHRR grants are part of the Behavioral Health Workforce Development Initiative, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The initiative is part of DHCS’ broader efforts to expand California’s behavioral health workforce, improve access to behavioral health services across the state, and deploy resources that behavioral health employers can utilize to recruit and retain their workforce. Advocates for Human Potential, Inc. (AHP) serve as the administrative entity for the Initiative.

Since 2021, more than $197 million has been invested through the workforce development initiative to recruit, mentor, and retain behavioral health professionals, including significant investment in the peer workforce, who can offer treatment to those with substance use and opioid addiction. As of July 2023, 308 grantees across California have been awarded funds that support the expansion of their behavioral health operations through the initiative. These programs include:


Award details are available.