State of Washington
Department of Social and Health Services
Behavioral Health Administration
Office of Forensic Mental Health Services
Request for Information #1830-683 (Reissued)
Forensic Evaluation Services
In 2017, the Office of Forensic Mental Health Services of the Behavioral Health Administration of the Department of Social and Health Services of the State of Washington (Department) requested information twice (both February and August) from qualified professionals interested in contracting with the Department to perform forensic evaluations of individuals referred to the Department by the courts. The response to our two previous Request for Information (RFI) solicitations was limited. Through this document, the Department is re-issuing its RFI and is requesting similar information, with several important changes. The Department has modified several questions to focus on competency related assessments, provided clarity on timeframes for report completion, and added a new question (question 11). Persons who responded to the initial RFI should reapply and resubmit responses to have an opportunity to clarify reimbursement requirements and to address the longer amount of time to complete reports. For those individuals who would be resubmitting, the Department appreciates your time and apologize for the inconvenience. The Department also wishes to clarify that its needs are limited to professionals with experience in performing forensic evaluations of criminal defendants and to encourage professionals who are developing this skill set to inquire about opportunities with the Department in the future.
After receiving information in response to this RFI, the Department may elect to enter into contracts for the performance of forensic evaluations.
The Department is responsible for the provision of certain forensic mental health services ordered by a court, pursuant to RCW 10.77, with respect to individuals who are charged with a crime within the State of Washington. One type of forensic mental health service consists of the evaluation of an individual’s competency to stand trial, referred to in this document as a “forensic evaluation.” Another type of forensic mental health service consists of treatment which attempts to restore the competency of an individual who has been found incompetent to stand trial, referred to in this document as “competency restoration.” Forensic evaluations are presently provided in jail facilities, the state hospitals, and in the community. In the main, these forensic services are provided by Department personnel. Complementing the work of Department personnel, some in-jail forensic evaluations are presently performed by professionals whose services are arranged by counties and reimbursed by the Department (“panel evaluations”). Competency restoration services are presently provided in the state hospitals and in two temporary residential treatment facilities contracted by the Department.
In recent years, the Department has experienced increasing demand for its forensic evaluation and competency restoration services and has been ordered to provide each of these types of services within short turnaround times imposed under statutory provisions and court orders. The Department and its many community partners have made significant efforts to expand and improve the delivery of forensic mental health services.
In furtherance of these efforts, the Office of Forensic Mental Health Services (OFMHS) was established within the Department in 2015. The OFMHS has responsibility for the organization and oversight of forensic mental health services within the State of Washington. In addition to operationalizing alternative sites for the provision of competency restoration services outside the state hospitals, the OFMHS has initiated diversion programs, improved data collection and tracking, increased the number of forensic evaluators employed by the Department and implemented training activities to improve the quality of forensic evaluations.
Forensic Evaluation Service Goals
The goal of contracting forensic evaluation services is to expand capacity to help ensure that forensic evaluations are completed, and reports are provided to the courts, within fourteen (14) days following the entry of a court order referring a detainee for evaluation. Despite the expansion of the Department’s team of employed forensic evaluators, the Department is still not fully able to meet the required timeline for every person ordered by the court to receive a jail-based evaluation. Contracted evaluators may be interested in supplementing their existing practices to assist the Department, may be available to expand the availability of services during off hours and weekends, or may be situated in geographic regions that are not as frequently and conveniently served by Department forensic evaluators.
Most forensic evaluations are performed within jail facilities, but some evaluations may be performed in a professional office/community setting. Depending upon its needs and the qualifications and availability of respondents, the Department may elect to contract with multiple professionals to provide forensic evaluations within the time frames and geographic areas where the Department has service needs. Any contracts entered into by the Department would be subject to the needs of the Department and to the availability of the Contractor, as evidenced by the acceptance of a referral.
Minimum Respondent Qualifications
The Department is seeking information from professionals who are either:
1. A psychiatrist licensed as a physician and surgeon in the State of Washington who has, in addition, completed three years of graduate training in psychiatry in a program approved by the American Medical Association or the American Osteopathic Association and is certified or eligible to be certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology or the American Osteopathic Board of Neurology and Psychiatry;
2. A psychologist licensed as a psychologist pursuant to chapter 18.83 RCW; or
3. A social worker with a master’s or further advanced degree from a social work educational program accredited and approved as provided in RCW 18.320.010.
In addition, respondents should meet the following minimum experience/training/certification requirements: experience performing competency evaluations of criminal defendants; knowledge of competency statutes; psychological testing knowledge; excellent clinical assessment and diagnostic skills; strong report writing skills; and, satisfactory criminal background check results. Persons who fall within one of the above categories and who do not meet the minimum experience, training and certification requirements set forth above should not respond to this Request for Information, since they cannot be considered at this time. The Department will consider respondents interested in providing in-person evaluations and/or who provide services using telehealth technology.