Sharing Data Across Justice and Behavioral Health Systems: 2022 NACo Annual Conference Workshop Summary

The Familiar Faces Initiative (FFI) seeks better outcomes and lower incarceration rates for individuals who frequently cycle through jails, homeless shelters, emergency departments and other local crisis services by empowering communities to share data and integrate care options between health and justice systems.

Data sharing and care coordination build on the principle that if service providers can better understand the needs of their clients, they can be more targeted and more effective in their support for these individuals. Through FFI programs, county health, safety and human services departments and providers work to meet residents’ needs with essential support systems through increased collaboration, communication and cooperation.

During Sharing Data Across Justice and Behavioral Health Systems at the 2022 NACo Annual Conference, session attendees gained insight into how county governments, law enforcement, service providers and medical facilities can share behavioral health and justice data to improve inter-agency care, thus improving individual outcomes. Throughout the session, speakers from Adams County, Colo., Johnson County, Kan. and Minnehaha County, S.D. presented on data-sharing strategies and how they are supporting our highest-need residents.


Adams County, Colo.

Adams County centers its data-sharing efforts around people experiencing homelessness and building a better understanding of their needs through service utilization data. By entering into data sharing agreements with municipal partners, Max Cercone, Senior Performance Evaluator for the Adams County Department of Community Safety & Well-Being, shared that he and his team of data scientists input all participating partners’ data into R, an accessible, open-source technology platform. The team then uses a software package called record linkage to match individuals across disparate data sets. Cercone explained that the underlying engine of R and record linkage is a regression model that score matches based on selected variables such as first name, last name, date of birth and, if available, social security numbers. The data matches provide a more holistic picture of how people cycle through homeless service systems across Adams County, Denver and Boulder County. These data help the county better serve individuals with the highest needs through opportunities for outreach and connections to appropriate programs and services.

Minnehaha County, S.D.

Minnehaha County operates a jail reentry program, Alliance, which aims to reduce high recidivism rates among familiar faces to the county jail. Recognizing a need to involve multiple partners that represent all the service needs of familiar faces, Brett Johnson, Director of Alliance, shared that the program developed a Coordinated Assessment Reentry Team (CART). CART is comprised of medical, mental health, jail and detox staff, as well as the homeless outreach team at the Minnehaha Community Health Center. CART engages with familiar faces through referrals from pretrial services staff, public defenders, public advocates and community members. The participation of multi-sector agencies allows CART to create holistic case plans that connect people to the most appropriate resources.

Read more about Minnehaha County’s approach here.

Johnson County, Kan.

In 2016, the Johnson County Department of Corrections implemented a mental health screening process to better understand the needs of individuals cycling through the jail. The Department then shared this information with the county’s community mental health center. The resulting data indicated that the county’s familiar faces received services across a vast portfolio of providers, including the jail. Mike Brouwer, Johnson County’s Criminal Justice Coordinator, explained that in response to the number of disparate providers serving mutual clients, a former county manager initiated a data-sharing application that supports case management, My Resource Connection (MyRC).

MyRC is a comprehensive database that takes all Johnson County human services client data and de-identifies it to allow for cross-agency sharing and input of information. Each client in the application is assigned a system identification number to protect their privacy, and staff from each agency can input information about contacts and case notes into the system without accessing each other’s notes. While MyRC is set up as a resource for human services agencies, an individual’s probation officer can also receive a notification of contact with another agency. Detailed information can be shared if the individual has signed a release of information. MyRC helps to identify mutual clients between multiple service providers while protecting personal information. In addition to helping these agencies coordinate care, the county uses MyRC data to identify trends or gaps in services and create policies and programs to better support community members.

Read more about Johnson County’s approach here.

Navigating Privacy Laws

Guidelines established by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other privacy regulations were enacted to ensure that individuals’ health information is properly protected while allowing the flow of health information needed to provide and promote high-quality health care.[1] Each of the panelists shared innovative approaches to working across health and justice systems to share data and coordinate care while protecting the privacy of county residents.

  • In Minnehaha County, the community triage center and two area hospitals use release of information agreements that allow them to share information that helps divert people experiencing drug and alcohol withdrawal from the hospitals to the triage center.
  • Adams County uses data-sharing agreements with neighboring counties to access their Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS) and public safety datasets and develop a better understanding of the needs of individuals that are utilizing services across jurisdictions.
  • Johnson County hired a HIPAA Compliance Officer at the inception of MyRC; this role has been a significant asset in terms of fostering collaboration amongst partners.

These types of partnerships between counties, providers and neighboring jurisdictions allow for improved care of individuals and better decision making for policy makers.

Watch the recorded session here.

Interested in learning more about the capabilities of cross-system data sharing platforms? Join NACo and the Familiar Faces Initiative (FFI) this October for a series of webinars featuring a technology and/or platform that shares and integrates data across behavioral health, health and justice systems. Register for the learning series here.

Additional Resources:


[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA): HIPAA Privacy Rule.