What We Do
The Kern Family Education and Resource Center (FERC) is a free family/caregiver-centered program that is dedicated to helping families navigate mental health and/or substance use services and resources for their loved ones. It connects families to free resources, education and advocacy to support their loved ones, including children, adolescents, transitional age youth, adults, and older adults with mental illness and/or substance use disorders. We help families navigate complex behavioral health systems and we educate family members about their rights/their loved one’s rights all while encouraging self-care through our dedication and compassion.
Warm Line For families who need emotional support, a friendly voice that understands, and linkages to mental health recovery resources, Kern FERC offers a warm line run by our family advocates. Our warm line is a non-crisis information and referral phone number that helps connect families to FERC services and relevant mental health and substance use resources. The Kern FERC warm line operates Monday through Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. If an individual reaches our warm line outside of the covered hours, we suggest they leave a voicemail and we will answer their inquiry the next business day. However, in case of a medical or psychiatric emergency, we prompt callers to reach 911. You can reach our Warm Line at 844-360-8250 Family Navigation Family Navigation is at the heart of what we do at Kern FERC. While each of our client’s situations are unique, most of our Family Advocates spend their time and efforts of service provision around the following areas: Orientation to Kern Behavior Health and Recovery Services and County Mental Health System & Services: We provide an orientation to the Kern County mental health system, and give families detailed information about how the system works and what services are available for their loved one. In addition to helping families understand what services are available, we help them map out services that match their unique situations and goals. We also provide education about mental health medication, and context about mental health treatment options. Education on Privacy & Confidentiality Regulations: In our experience, confusion about patient and family rights makes it difficult for families to advocate for their loved ones, especially during a crisis. We help educate families on these privacy and confidentiality regulations, like the release of information (ROI) process, HIPAA, and legislation that protects the rights of the family to provide information to treatment teams like AB-1424. Families can come to us to help them locate and fill out forms. Collaboration with Providers & Community Partners: Depending on what a family needs and requests, we can collaborate with community partners and mental health providers to build teams around families and provide wraparound support. In some cases, we have joined multi-disciplinary teams and meetings with providers to advocate on behalf of families and share our expertise. When invited, we can attend appointments and act as a member of the loved one’s care team. We also actively participate in liaison role with our key partners. Phone & in-person consultation: We support family caregivers by phone or by in-person consultation. Bakersfield Referral Team The focus of the Bakersfield Referral Team is to connect a person to needed resources, including mental health and/or addiction services. Once a referral is received from anyone in the community, the team goes directly to that person to develop a relationship and build trust. The goal is to engage and empower that person to make the choice to be connected to treatment options and community resources to start on their recovery journey. For more information, call 844-863-7002 Laura's Law/Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) Sometimes, a person with a mental illness will not seek treatment, no matter how severe their symptoms are. That’s where our Assisted Outpatient Treatment team steps in with the goal to engage these individuals and get them to a place where they will voluntarily accept behavioral health services. The team is brought in after other engagement attempts have been unsuccessful. AOT is not a crisis response team, but will coordinate with crisis teams to assess if a person is eligible for the program. If the criteria is met, the team can petition the Kern County Superior Court to order a person to receive services. To meet AOT’s eligibility requirements, a person must: Live in kern County and at least 18 years old. Have a mental illness Have a history of not complying with treatment for the mental illness with at least one of these being true. Their mental illness has, at least twice within the last 36 months, been a substantial factor in a hospitalization or incarceration OR Their mental illness has resulted in one or more attempts or acts of serious violent behavior towards themselves or another within the last 48 months. Their condition is substantially deteriorating Have been offered to participate in developing their treatment plan but continue to not be involved. The program will prevent a relapse or deterioration that could result in the person meeting California's commitments standard. AOT is the least restrictive placement that is appropriate and feasible, and necessary to ensure recovery and stability. AOT combines court supervision with high-intensity community based behavioral health services, and has been proven to interrupt the tragic cycle often experienced by a person with mental illness who has difficulty engaging in traditional outpatient services. The program may reduce hospitalizations, incarcerations and mental health crises. AOT is a less restrictive and more preventative approach that provides intensive treatment to a person who has a history of risk to self and, in many cases, AOT can prevent the need for an involuntary hold. ASSISTED OUTPATIENT TREATMENT REFERRAL PROCESS Referrals can be submitted by: Immediate adult family members Anyone over 18 years old who lives with the individual A treating licensed mental health provider Director of treating agency, charitable organization, licensed residential care facility or hospital Police, parole or probation officers who are supervising the individual For more information or to submit a referral, call 661-529-5526
The Family Education and Resource Center (FERC) is a family-centered program that provides free education, advocacy, and support to family caregivers of a loved one with mental health issues living in all regions of Kern County. Through our programming, we educate our families about mental health treatment, we advocate on behalf of our families to ensure they are part of the dialogue, and we support our families through support groups, phone calls, and in-person meetings. Our programs live under the trauma-informed care model, which means we recognize both the impact of trauma and the importance of being compassionate and supportive through building a sense of empowerment in all of our work. We offer services, support groups, and trainings at no cost.