O'Brien County's Bell-Times-Courier -

Iowa Counties Consider Mental Health Region Membership


October 10, 2019

The state of Iowa imposed a regional structure for Mental Health of adult citizens. Regions took effect July 1, 2014. Sioux Rivers Mental Health and Disability Services Region began with Woodbury, Sioux and Plymouth Counties. Woodbury County opted to join Rolling Hills region leaving Sioux and Plymouth Counties investigating their options. Today, Sioux Rivers Regional Mental Health and Disability Services membership includes Plymouth, Sioux and Lyon Counties.

On Tuesday, October 1, O’Brien County Supervisor Chairperson Sherri Bootsma notified the O’Brien County board that Mark Loutsch, Sioux Rivers Board Chair had contacted her to ask if O’Brien County would entertain a proposal to join Sioux Rivers. The Board agreed to hear the proposal.

The idea of regionalization was to more evenly provide mental health services at a more balanced cost to adult citizens needing services. Presently, O’Brien County has a tax cap for mental health at $30.30 per capita. The levy in considerably less at this time due to regionalization and state requirements. County Auditor Barb Rohwer believes the levy cap for both regions is similar.

O’Brien County is a member Northwest Iowa Care Connection MHDS region. It is also the fiscal agent for the region. O’Brien County is the employer for the court appointed advocate, Abby Wallin who performs advocacy services to both NW Iowa Care Connections and Sioux Rivers regions.

Northwest Iowa Care Connection member counties are O’Brien, Osceola, Clay, Dickinson and Osceola. Lyon County was an original member.

Four counties who are current members of County Social Services MHDS are interested in joining NW Iowa Care Connections and have been working to gain membership for at least 2 years. Those four counties showing interest in Care Connections membership are Kossuth, Winnebago, Worth and Hancock. Should these counties be successful in joining Care Connections, Iowa regional requirements would then force Emmet County to also make the move. County Social Services MHDS today includes 22 counties across northern Iowa to the Mississippi River.

That proposal will be presented Tuesday, October 8 in the O’Brien County Supervisors regular board meeting. Sioux Rivers is scheduled for 9:05am in the 2nd floor board room.


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