GARNER | Hancock, Winnebago and Worth counties will not leave the 22-county mental health region they belong to.
At least that’s the case for now anyway, and that’s in large part because there’s no legislation in place to do so, county supervisors say.
“We could get in, but the getting out is interesting,” Hancock County Supervisor Sis Greiman said.
The counties’ decision came during a County Social Services Board meeting on Oct. 25, when representatives from the three counties asked to withdraw the letter they individually — and unanimously — voted to submit to the board stating they planned to leave the service region because they weren’t satisfied with its delivery in their counties.
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The board meeting was held after two stakeholder meetings this fall, where more than 20 supervisors and staff within the CSS service region met with the Iowa Department of Human Services and area legislators to voice their concerns about the region’s staffing, funding and delivery of mental health and disability services.
“I don’t doubt that we could do it,” said Terry Durby, Winnebago County supervisor. “We just have to have a lot of things in place.”
And legislation isn’t one of them, which is something Sen. Waylon Brown, R-St. Ansgar, notified the counties about a week before the CSS Board meeting.
He said he’d be willing to champion a bill addressing the issue if the counties were serious about establishing a new service region.
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“There’s a lot of I’s and T’s that need to be dotted and crossed (in order to leave),” said Bill Jensvold, Winnebago County supervisor.
CSS is one of 14 regions established in 2014 as part of Iowa’s Mental Health and Disability Redesign to “efficiently and effectively” provide mental health services mandated under state law, according to the region’s joint agreement.
With 22 counties spanning North Iowa, it’s the largest region in the state, but all regions operate differently based on the joint agreements the counties approved during the redesign.
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According to the CSS region’s joint agreement, a county may not withdraw unless written notice is received by CSS from the county board before Nov. 15 for effective withdrawal by June 30 of the following year.
Bob Lincoln, the region’s CEO, said as a result of the meetings this fall, the CSS Board is going to address the counties’ concerns.
“We’re working on that and resolving our differences, so we are able to be a stronger organization moving forward,” he said.