Gari D. Tookes, director of Florida A&M University’s Master of Social Work program, recently represented the university to accept a grant from the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Tookes, an assistant professor, and four FAMU graduate students authored the 1.2 million dollar Gadsden County Criminal Justice Diversion Project last year.

The project will provide a comprehensive array of services and support for citizens in the criminal justice system with untreated mental health and substance abuse challenges.

The Gadsden County Criminal Justice Diversion Project expects to serve approximately 150 participants over the next three years.

In addition to the services being provided through FAMU, the project will develop crisis intervention teams throughout the county, enhanced de-escalation techniques and education on trauma-informed care practices.

The program will also enable law enforcement and the community to better respond to citizens struggling with mental health and substance abuse challenges, directing them to services and treatment in lieu of incarceration.