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March 21, 2013

Counties Meet to Discuss Mental Health District

Oskaloosa — Representatives from the county governments of Jasper, Mahaska, Marion and Poweshiek met Thursday afternoon in Oskaloosa to discuss the group's regional mental health district. 

Last year, the Iowa Legislature passed Senate File 2513, which forced individual counties to join with at least two other contiguous counties to form mental health districts. This is part of mental health reform in Iowa, intended to pool resources in the hopes of providing better service to those in need. If counties failed to join or form a district, the State will dictate a region for that county. 

The four counties mentioned voluntarily joined each other last year. In the months since, communication has existed between each county's Central Point Coordinator (CPC) and the Iowa Department of Human Services.

Elected officials in attendance were briefed regarding what has been discussed thus far, and what their next moves should be. The CPC's had prepared proposed structures for a governing board for the district, which is expected to include one member of each county's Board of Supervisors to represent his or her county. 

Jasper County has already appointed its representative, Supervisor Joe Brock. The other three counties have not designated their representatives, though these boards intend to have the appointments on their next meeting agendas. 

Though each county will have an appointed representative, the new region will require a 28E agreement that must be ratified by all four counties. Input into this agreement, and its approval in each county, will be done so by entire Boards of Supervisors. 

Studies are being done to measure what requirements for employment will be necessary for the board to function. Julie Jetter, Community Systems Consultant, MHDS Division of the DHS, was asked what role CPC's will play with the new region. She said she believed the role of the CPC in each county will evolve, and will ultimately depend upon the structure of the district's management. According to Jetter, when everything is prepared for the district, there will be plenty of work to do. 

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