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CommunityNorth Texas

Once a pilot program, DART Cares initiative to help riders with mental health issues is now fully running

Dallas, Texas – The DART Cares initiative began as a trial but is now fully up and running. This team focuses on aiding people without homes who might be going through mental health issues. Often, they find that these individuals just need help accessing basic services.

Delorean Wilkinson-McGee, a social worker, excels in making connections with people. She’s a key member of the DART Cares team, which includes a mental health expert from Parkland Health, a DART police officer, and a paramedic from the Dallas Fire Department.

Their goal is to help homeless individuals found in areas like DART stations, buses, and trains.

“Find out what they need and get them to our partners to get them the help that they need,” said DART Chief Communications Officer Jeamy Molina as reported by FOX 4.

The program in action

One woman was hanging out near the DART bus stop off Elm Street in Downtown Dallas. Wilkinson-McGee was able get her connected to medical care and transportation.

Deputy Chief Scott Clumpner of Dallas Fire-Rescue mentioned that Station 18, in downtown Dallas, sees the most action in the city. He pointed out how crucial it is to have a paramedic from the fire department as part of the DART Cares team. They have about 40 paramedics taking turns in this role.

“Our ambulances are the ones ultimately called to these locations, and that’s part of goal of the program as well is to reduce the need to send a frontline ambulance to someone who might not need emergency care but definitely needs treatment,” he said.

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“Our social workers are able to do in-person psycho-social assessments meeting needs where they are,” said Kristin Peterson with Parkland Health. “Some people have gotten disconnected from family gotten lost down here and stranded.”

The DART Cares program expected to bring positive results in the future

This approach helped individuals like Bartholomew. After spending more than ten years homeless in Dallas, he was able to go back to his family in Kansas. This reunion was possible because of the DART Cares team, who found him during a particularly cold night in January and took him to a temporary shelter at Our Calling.

The pastor there set up the touching moment.

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