Community Organizer – Racial Justice
CESSA stands for Community Emergency Services and Support Act. It is a bill created by racial justice advocates at Access Living and will soon be introduced to the Illinois General Assembly. CESSA addresses the health needs of people who are not violent and who are not violating the law by sending support instead of police. It expands the reach of current programs operating across the state that have already rejected co-responder models for this population, requiring that such work be coordinated with and accessible through the State’s 911 systems. The mobile response service proposed by CESSA is based on the CAHOOTS model that operates in Eugene, Oregon.
If passed by the Illinois State Legislature, CESSA would establish an emergency response option for mental health emergencies, one that does not involve any police or law enforcement. CESSA requires each of the State’s EMS Regions to coordinate a mobile mental and behavioral health service through its 911 provider so that such service is available wherever the region provides ambulance service. Subject to certain minimum service levels, each EMS Region decides the extent to which it will rely on existing service options or encourages additional providers to offer services. CESSA would also:
THIS BILL DOES NOT TRAIN POLICE. CESSA is NOT based on a co-responder model, in which police are accompanied by social workers. The bill aims to avoid any police intervention.
CAHOOTS is an Oregon organization serving the Eugene-Springfield metro area that dispatches teams of medics (either a nurse or an EMT) and a crisis worker (who has at least several years of experience in the mental health field) to calls requesting help for mental and behavioral health emergencies.
CESSA is supported by a wide variety of Chicago nonprofits, mental health professionals, community partners, allies, and elected officials, with more and more supporters signing on all the time. Current supporters include:
Interested in supporting CESSA? Contact Candace Coleman, Access Living’s Racial Justice community organizer.
For CESSA to become state law, we need advocates and allies to ask state legislators to support CESSA and help us raise awareness. Here are a few ways you can lend your voice: