Proposed Budget Amendments Would Benefit Mental Health Services

On October 25 at 5:30 in room 354 of the City/County Building, Supervisor Heidi Wegleitner will present budget amendments to benefit human services at the Health and Human Needs Committee.  Here are the items.

HHN-O-09 (Wegleitner)
Increase operating expenditures by $780,000 to fund supportive services for affordable housing admissions and continued occupancy for persons on the Homeless Services Consortium of Dane County’s Priority List, including homeless veterans (42), chronically homeless (268), and homeless youth (71).

Other related amendments
HHN-O-01 (Levin)
Increase expenditures by $30,000 to expand HUD coordinated entry to areas outside the City of Madison.

HHN-O-07 (Wegleitner)
Increase operating expenditures by $300,000 to provide one buss passes for some of the 22,227 SNAP case units.

HHN-O-08 (Wegleitner)
At the end of fiscal year 2018, any surplus of deficit of general purpose revenue in the Human Services Fund, net of any deficit or surplus in the Badger Prairie Fund, shall be retained in the Human Services Fund. Any surplus will be applied in fiscal year 2019 to support programs of the Human Services Department. Only by a 2/3 vote of the County Board may surplus funds from the Human Services Reserve Fund be appropriated for other purposes.

HHN-C-01 (Wegleitner)
Increase expenditures and borrowing proceeds by $8,000,000 for planning and development of one or more 24/7 community-based crisis, assessment, and resource centers focused on supporting persons in the community, and diverting persons with mental health, substance abuse, or developmental disability issues who have contact with law enforcement from being arrested and/or admitted to
the County jail.

NOTE: Annually, approximately $6 million is transferred from the Human Services Fund to other areas of the Dane County budget.  The sheriff’s department often is the recipient.  The proposed budget amendment would keep any surplus in the Human Services Reserve Fund unless 2/3 of the county board approve a transfer.

UPDATE:  The amendment for planning and development of community-based crisis, assessment and resource centers failed.   An amendment for $40,000 for bus passes passed.


Four Alders Support a Crisis/Restoration Center

Alds. Cheeks, Phair, Eskrich and Clear announced interest in a crisis/restoration center at a press conference on Monday.  Click here to read Dean Mosiman’s account in the Wisconsin State Journal.

Here is the excerpt from the article:

“[Madison]  should work with Dane County and others to explore a Restoration Center, which would be an alternative for individuals who otherwise would be arrested or taken to the hospital because of behavior, intoxication and/or mental health problems.

The latter effort, based on a facility in San Antonio, could be funded by local governments, Medicaid, health insurers, private sponsors and other sources, Phair said.”

MOSES, an interfaith organization, has advocated for a crisis center for more than two years.  The League of Women Voters of Dane County testified in favor of such a center at a recent committee meeting of the Dane County Board of Supervisors.

Read “Funding Mental Health Services Can Pay off for the Taxpayers, as well as the Beneficiaries” on this blog for more information about how a center would operate and be funded.

Cheeks and Phair scheduled budget listening sessions in their districts for Wednesday, Sept. 6, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Meadowridge Library, 5726 Raymond Rd; and Saturday, Sept. 9, 10 to 12 a.m. at the Sequoya Library, 4340 Tokay Blvd.

Click here to read an article from Cap Times about the press conference.





Voices from the Front Lines: Journey’s Dave Delap

Community Treatment Alternatives (CTA) was the first program in the country to offer Assertive Community Treatment in a jail diversion program.  Offered at the Journey Mental Health Center, CTA provides highly individualized and intensive mental health services to each client from a multi-disciplinary team.

CTA claims a stellar reputation among mental health advocates and professionals.  MOSES, the most persistent advocate for more jail diversion efforts, recommended an increase of 20 slots in the program.  The Diversions Task Force, appointed by the Dane County Board of Supervisors, concurred.  Funds for an additional 15 slots are included in the county’s 2017 budget.

Dave Delap, the program’s long-time director, has been paying close attention to recent discussions about jail diversion.  Like other advocates, he believes that portions of the jail are inhumane, unsafe, and in need of replacement.  But, along with those advocates, he thinks more could be done to promote jail diversion by expanding mental health services.

Delap said, “I was dumbfounded when Lynn Green, director of the Department of Health and Human Services, claimed, ‘No one is in jail because of lack of capacity for community mental health programs for jail diversion.'”

That remark was part of Green’s presentation to the June 6 joint meeting of two county board committees about jail diversion programs.  Delap also was disappointed that the statement went unquestioned by committee members.  (See Voices from the Front Line on this blog for more information about the meeting.)

Jail administrator Richelle Anhalt reported that 29 percent of the inmates were on psychotropic medication and 107 of them were termed as “special needs for mental health.”  In a later statement, using figures from the jail, Lindsay Wallace of NAMI-Dane estimated that 700 people could be diverted from the jail each year if appropriate mental health services were available.  (Producing an accurate count of the number of people in jails and prisons with mental illness is a contentious issue throughout the country.)

Delap has some common sense suggestions about how to increase jail diversion that result from his long experience at CTA.  Flexibility and a variety of approaches are important. People with mental illness who could benefit from jail diversion vary as much as other people with mental illness.

More flexibility in the criminal justice system itself could promote diversion.  Delap pointed out that Correct Care Solutions, which screens people for mental health problems when they enter the jail, is not funded to screen for the possibility of diversion.  He advocates screening at many points throughout the system: before arrest, after arrest but before sentencing; at sentencing, and as an alternative to revocation of parole or probation.

Instead of another increase in CTA’s slots, Delap recommends adding a short-term program for people who have been diverted from the jail.  Staff would work closely with them for six to eight months.  After the person is stabilized and their long-term treatment needs understood, he or she could be enrolled in a program offering appropriate help.

Delap’s suggestions about multiple points for screening are consistent with the views of MOSES and other organizations that have argued for a crisis restoration center to which police could take people for assessment and short-term treatment instead of a jail booking.  He noted that Journey operates a hospital diversion program that might be enhanced to meet the needs of jail diversion.  Opponents and county officials have pointed out the need for a secure facility.  That problem has been resolved in other communities.

Finding the money is an immediate and perpetual issue.  About funding, Delap also has the benefit of many years of experience.  He said that between 2003 and 2016, county funding directed to mental health services did not increase, despite the increase in inflation and population.  Inflation alone brought about a decrease of approximately 25 percent in real dollars for mental health services.

Delap said, “The annual transfer of approximately $6 million from the budget of the Department of Health and Humans Services to the General Fund is appalling in these circumstances.”

Check back to learn about progress in a campaign to address mental health funding in Dane County.




Grants Available to Reduce Recidivism for Inmates with Mental Health/Substance Abuse Problems

The Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance is seeking applications for the Second Chance Act Reentry Program for Adults with Co-Occurring Substance Use and Mental Disorders. This program provides resources to state, local, and tribal governments to establish or enhance the provision of treatment to adults to facilitate successful reintegration of individuals returning from incarceration to their communities.  Applications are due March 14, 2017.

Click here for more information.


Training Available for Judges concerning Mental Health

One of 10 recommendations of the “Mental Health, Solitary Confinement, and Incarceration” task group to the Dane County Board of Supervisors in 2015 was to “support the development of a plan to deliver additional training and resources for judicial officials, attorneys and others involved in the court process.”

Free help is available from the Justice Center of the Council of State Governments.  A training, “Judicial Work at the Interface of Mental Health and Criminal Justice” is a four- hour live interactive training designed for judges who hear criminal cases. The program was created by judges and psychiatrists working in partnership with the American Psychiatric Association Foundation and the CSG Justice Center .

Deadline for applications is June 30,2017.  Click here for more information.

Repealing ACA Would Help the Rich and Hurt the Poor

Sometimes a headline captures the full meaning of a story.  That is the case with two reports published by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Here they are.  Click on the links if you need details.

Eliminating Two ACA Medicare Taxes Means Very Large Tax Cuts for Higher Earners and the Wealthy and ACA Repeal Would Lavish Medicare Tax Cuts on 400 Highest-Income Households.

NAMI-Dane County Moves Quickly to Meet New Challenges

Just when we need hope and energy they have appeared at NAMI-Dane County.  Lindsay Wallace, the new executive director, and the board of directors have launched several initiatives that will help members meet the obvious challenges ahead.

The board went through a strategic planning process designed to establish priorities and methods to measure success.  The three broad goals are: sustainability (fundraising-development), youth mental health, and advocacy.  Each goal has specific objectives to be met, often with target dates.

The redesigned website provides a staff blog.  A recent entry offers lessons learned from a MOSES-sponsored meeting on the mental health implications of crimeless revocation.  Such revocation occurs when a person is sent back to jail for a parole violation instead of committing a crime.  Executive Director Wallace was a speaker.

The strategic plan appears on the website, as do board minutes.  Recently, members heard an update on Housing Initiatives, a program that provides housing for people with mental illness.  Board members also are working on problems related to the criminal justice system.

NAMI-Dane County’s advocacy committee meets the 2nd Monday of every month from 5:30 to 7:00 at the United Way Building, 2059 Atwood Ave.  Currently, the committee is working on issues concerning youth mental health.

The website address is: