Breakout #3: Community Connection Program
The city of Bethlehem is an urban community located in eastern Pennsylvania with a population of 75,000. In 2020, the Bethlehem Police Department and the Bethlehem Health Bureau partnered together to create the Community Connections Program. As part of this program, social workers receive referrals from police when an officer identifies a social service need in the community. The social worker provides a phone call, home visit, or co-response to get the client connected to services. The social workers also provide co-response immediately when necessary. The Community Connections Program began as a small pilot but expanded to the entire police department due to the success. The data collected demonstrates that when someone is connected with a social worker they are around 90% likely to accept treatment services and remain in treatment for at least 30 days. The Bethlehem Health Bureau has identified gaps in services for different populations the social workers have encountered and created a focus group to develop a strategic plan to address these disparities. The Bethlehem Health Bureau is continuing to expand this program and have had the opportunity to present our model to multiple organizations and describe the uniqueness of our referral and co-response abilities.