DSH Diversion Program

In recent years, California has seen a drastic increase in the referral to state hospitals of patients who are incompetent to stand trial. The state has also experienced a growing homeless population, which has a high prevalence of mental illness (and co-occurring substance use disorder issues). The 2018-19 State Budget includes $100 million General Fund over three years for the expansion and development of county diversion programs, with the majority of funding going to the 15 counties with the highest referrals to state hospitals.

Funding Opportunities

Round 3: Request for Application
Letter of Intent   Due Dec. 6, 2019
County Questions and Answers
Final Application Due Jan. 31, 2020
Round 3 RFA Directions
Round 3 RFA Project Overview
Round 3 RFA Funding Calculations

Technical Assistance Schedule

DSH Diversion Team Office Hours
From 10:00-11:00 a.m. on the last Friday of the Month

Fall 2019 Technical Assistance Webinar Series Flyer

Technical Assistance Resources

Webinar Videos

Risk Assessments, Risk Needs Responsivity, and Forensic Training Resources:

Collaborative Case Planning – Council of State Governments

County Q&A

County Planning Guide

Incompetent to Stand Trial Diversion Program, Department of State Hospitals, Sept. 26, 2018

Council of State Governments Justice Center, California Mental Health Diversion Stakeholder Meeting, Sept. 26, 2018

Department Letters

Letter 19-001: Diversion Reporting Requirements, Oct. 23, 2019

Other Resources

Council of State Governments Justice Center

Judicial Council of CA

Council on Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

SAMHSA Evidence-Based Practices Resource Center

National Reentry Resource Center

Other Funding Resources:


Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the DSH Diversion Program?

The DSH Diversion Program is a collaboration between DSH and county governments to develop or expand diversion programs for individuals with serious mental illness who face felony charges and could be determined to be Incompetent to Stand Trial (IST). The DSH Diversion Program provides funding to counties to support community mental health treatment and other services for these individuals.

Why is the program needed?

Some people who are Incompetent to Stand Trial committed felonies that stem from serious mental illness or being homeless. They have difficulty accessing mental health services and committing to treatment and often cycle through the criminal justice system. The goal of the DSH Diversion Program is to provide these individuals, when a judge deems it safe and appropriate to do so, with long-term community mental health treatment and other services and to avoid criminal charges and institutionalization.

Who is served by the program?

The DSH Diversion Program provides funding to counties to serve primarily individuals who are:

  • Eligible for diversion under Penal Code Section 1001.35, et. Seq., Diversion of Individuals with Mental Disorders
  • Diagnosed with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder or bipolar disorder;
  • Charged with a felony;
  • Not a significant safety risk if treated in the community.

In addition, there must be a significant link between the individual’s mental illness or homelessness and the crime they are charged with.

Who is not served by the program?

By law, individuals charged with the following felony crimes are not eligible for diversion:

  • Rape, murder or involuntary manslaughter;
  • Sexual abuse of a child or a lewd or lascivious act on a child;
  • Assault with intent to commit rape, sodomy, or oral copulation.

How much funding is available?

The three-year program is funded for $100 million, of which $99.5 million is being awarded to counties. The remaining funds are for program support.

Which counties does the program serve?

The majority of funding - $91 million - for the three-year program is available for the 15 counties that refer the greatest number of ISTs to DSH: Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus. A smaller portion of the funding - $8.5 million - is available to other counties, too.

What must county governments do to participate in the program?

To receive funding, county diversion programs are expected to:

  • Provide evidence-based community mental health treatment and wrap-around services.
  • Serve individuals where there is a significant link between their serious mental illness or homelessness and the alleged felony crime and who do not present a significant safety risk if treated in the community.
  • Reduce IST referrals to DSH by 20 percent to 30 percent.
  • Contribute 20 percent of funds; small counties must contribute 10 percent.