Get started by checking out the home page of the Dane County Executive here. You will find buttons for budget, press releases, policy initiatives and an email contact. Checking press releases can be helpful to find out any recent action about mental health. Policy initiatives will give you an idea of the priorities of the executive.
The budget process begins with the county executive and county departments. From March-May, the executive prepares budget guidelines, which departments use to prepare their requests in June and August. In September, watch for the joint county executive and county board of supervisors public hearings on the budget. In October, the county board of supervisors holds public hearings and in November, it deliberates and votes on the budget. September and October are months in which public testimony is welcome, but communication with your supervisor can occur at any time.
To find your supervisor on the Dane County Board of Supervisors, click here. To find a listing of board committees and meeting times, click here. You will also find information about sending an email to your supervisor or to the entire board. For more detail about the Dane County budget process, click here.
NAMI-Dane County is the only advocacy organization I have identified that is focused strictly on mental health, although many organizations have mental health services as one aspect of their missions. MOSES is an interfaith organization that has been very active in criminal justice reform measures that affect people with mental illness. I would be happy to receive information about other organizations.
Reform of Dane County’s criminal justice system, particularly in relationship to people with mental illness, should be reflected in budgetary proposals. Last summer, the task group on criminal justice/mental health/solitary confinement reported to the board with 10 recommendations. See here. A team of five members, including a county board representative, attended the recent Stepping Up Summit in Washington, D.C., that focused on how to decrease the number of people with mental illness in jails and prisons.
Please check back for information about advocacy at the state and federal levels, including sources of research that will help you make a case for better services.