Winnebago County has been looking to relocate its mental health services from County Social Services to another region. The state of Iowa mandates that counties must pool financial resources together into mental health regions to provide better services. In the case of County Social Services, a number of new jobs were created beyond the essential services they could provide. The 21 counties represented in the region was the largest in the state. Some felt that the region went beyond the need of essential services or wasted money on programs that were grossly ineffective.
The Winnebago Board of Supervisors officially voted to leave the region and join Northwest Care Connections, a smaller region that would provide the county with a greater voice in the day to day operation of the programs. They were not alone. Worth and Kossuth Counties also voted to leave County Social Services in favor of Northwest Care Connections. Winnebago County Supervisor Bill Jensvold believes that the move out of County Social Services is a good one and will save taxpayers money in the long run.
The purpose of banding counties into regions was so that money could be pooled to help pay for the more severe of cases that would cost one county several hundred thousand dollars. However, in a pooled format, the cost would be equally shared and the burden would not be as great. However, Jensen and others are still bothered by the fact that County Social Services spent the pooled money on failed specialized programs and added positions.
Winnebago, Worth and Kossuth Counties join Northwest Iowa Care Connections on July 1st.