acorns staff


Addressing Crises through Outreach, Referrals, Networking, and Service

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Working with Residents Working with Community How Can I Ask for ACORNS Help? ACORNS in the News

In many cases, arresting someone who is living with a mental health, substance use, or homelessness concerns does not provide a lasting positive impact on the community or the person. It can cause a cycle of judicial issues and make it more difficult for the person to seek and obtain effective treatment and housing solutions. Several quality-of-life issues can be addressed through diversionary tactics and improving existing resources. That includes providing fair housing options, job opportunities, access to medical and mental health care, and substance use recovery programs.

The City of Raleigh’s ACORNS (Addressing Crises through Outreach, Referrals, Networking and Service) program was established to fulfill this need. Raleigh has a proactive team that works with residents in crisis and directs them to available resources. The ACORNS team combines social workers and law enforcement officers who are tasked to help by using the most appropriate and least invasive interventions possible.

The team is available to help any Raleigh resident who’s in crisis, with the goal of preventing future crisis for that person. The program’s inception stemmed partially from the Raleigh Police Department’s recognition that additional resources were needed in the community to help with mental-health-related calls. However, the team can help with a variety of issues in addition to mental health, including (but not limited to):

  • Substance abuse;
  • Homelessness;
  • Family support;
  • Post-incarceration release and diversion program connections; and,
  • Collaboration with multiple service providers.

The ACORNS team provides field services and uses a “care and safety first, enforcement last” approach. A social worker and an officer jointly respond to engage with residents in need of services.

The team also provides outreach, education, case management, investigation, and intervention services.

Working with Residents

ACORNS can help residents in various ways, including:

  • Respond to a call when someone is experiencing crisis and provide field services, such as:
    • Weather-appropriate clothing
    • Encampment outreach
    • Transportation to a shelter
    • On-site referrals to other service providers
  • Assist with finding services offered by community partners, including:
    • Oak City Cares
    • Healing Transitions
    • Southlight
    • Haven House
    • Salvation Army
    • Raleigh Rescue Mission
    • Wake County resources
  • Help identify needs and goals to create an individualized care plan
  • Maintain communication to discuss progress and evaluate a care plan
  • Help reunite family members
  • Assist with reducing likelihood of relapse
  • Help transition to long-term stability

Working with Community

The ACORNS team also works with the community by:

  • Meeting with community partners to discuss how to best meet the needs of residents who are receiving services in our community
  • Collaborating with agencies and community partners to assist residents in need to provide intervention and investigation services

How Can I Ask for ACORNS Help?

Contact ACORNS by: 



ACORNS Main Telephone Line
Lt. Shawn Brown

Sergeant Madeline Horner


Lead Department:
Service Categories:
Community Policing

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