Howard Center strengthens community crisis supports

Burlington, VT— Howard Center is enhancing its crisis and urgent response supports to meet growing needs in the community. The Agency’s crisis response teams include Street Outreach, Community Outreach, a mental health specialist embedded with the Vermont State Police, and a newly created Family Crisis Response Team. All can be dispatched based on calls to the Agency’s crisis or access and intake lines, or they can be called on by first responders.

Each team works proactively to address increasing public health concerns surrounding social service needs: the housing crisis, substance use, community safety, and psychiatric crisis throughout Chittenden County. The aim is to provide people with immediate access to help when they need it, beginning with outreach and engagement of at-risk individuals and families.

To help manage and grow these programs, Howard Center is also adding leadership capacity and seeking to hire an Assistant Director Outreach Crisis Support. “We’re seeing more and more need for crisis and outreach programs, and this is a great professional opportunity for someone ready to build on and expand our outreach capacity to respond to the needs of our community,” shared Bob Bick, Howard Center’s CEO.

Howard Center is one of many organizations working to address these community needs, explained Bick. “We hope to find someone who is interested in program and policy development to support the needs across Howard Center partnerships with law enforcement or emergency services to better meet the needs of the clients, staff, and families within our system of care.”

Street Outreach started in Burlington more than 20 years ago and was Howard Center’s sole outreach program for many years, helping people in Burlington access needed services and sometimes addressing behavioral concerns. The Community Outreach program, modeled after Street Outreach, provides similar supports in the surrounding communities, while the Family Crisis Response Team has a staff with more specialized training working with children and families.

“Crisis outreach is unique,” said Deanna Ryerson, Howard Center’s Director of Crisis, “these programs may be the first contact someone has with the mental health or addiction service system providing education, introduction, and referral. At other times, crisis outreach is the only service left for those who don’t know where else to turn. The recipe for success lies in building relationships, providing an essential support to individuals and families in their time of need, holding hope with a dedicated heart that people can and do recover, and demonstrating creativity and tenacity for follow up when the path forward is not a straight one. Our outreach teams do this every day.”

Anyone interested in the new position can find more information by going to and clicking on careers. Ryerson shared, “We’re looking for someone preferably with a master’s degree, and Vermont clinical licensure in good standing, with 5 years of relevant experience, program development or oversight. And someone who really has a passion for the work. That’s the most important.”

Howard Center’s mission is to help people and communities thrive by providing supports and services to address mental health, substance use, and developmental needs. With a staff of 1,600 at more than 60 locations, Howard Center is the state’s designated agency for Chittenden County and the largest community-based service agency in the state.

Questions about recruitment can be directed to, or visit For media inquiries, please contact Paul Detzer at or 802-488-6911.