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Supervisors discuss mental health and abused kids issues

Emmet County has the third highest percentage of abuse, neglect and risk factors in Iowa

October 27, 2017
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

At Tuesday's Emmet County Board of Supervisors meeting, Jessie Hansen of Prevent Child Abuse Iowa, and Jamey Whitney, CEO of Upper Des Moines Opportunity presented information from Iowa Child Abuse Prevention Program. Hansen said along with Wapello, Montgomery, Union, Clarke, Woodbury, Clinton, Lee and Scott Counties, Emmet County is in the top 10 in Iowa for overall risk factor scores.

Scores on all risk indicators were added: child abuse and neglect ranks, and the risk ranks from each specific risk: demographics, income, health, and adult behavior risk ranks.

Emmet County is in the top five for child abuse rate, 14th for child neglect rate, 17th for children living in poverty, but 43rd for child abuse prevention dollars spent per child.

The supervisors asked to review the information and have Hansen and Whitney on the Nov. 7 agenda.

Sheriff Mike Martens and Judy Tangen, Mental Health Service Coordinator, discussed the effort to get a contract with Avera hospital to transport to Sioux Falls for emergency mental health services for individuals in crisis. Currently, Avera Holy Family staff makes calls around the state to find an open bed.

"That might be in Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, anywhere in the state," Martens said. The sheriff's department transports the individual under county care to the available spot for inpatient treatment. A 90 minute drive would save staff time and be in the patient's best interest over a four hour drive to the other side of the state, Martens said.

"Emmet County needs this," Martens said.

Martens said people with mental health issues need facilities that will get them stable, then a step-down program to help with coping skills, lifestyle changes, and more. In the current situation with stabilizing the crisis then letting the individual out on their own, it gets into a revolving door, and law enforcement often has further interactions with these individuals.

Martens is supportive of the sub-acute program that County Social Services (CSS) is currently developing in Waterloo.

"We have to be able to manage what we are doing here," Martens said.

Tangen and supervisors chair Bev Juhl also discussed the situation with CSS. Tangen said although several nearby counties seek to leave County Social Services, including Kossuth County, Emmet County does not have to leave the region.

Counties are seeking to leave the large mental health care region of CSS due to a concern about a lack of accountability for money. Counties asking where the specific money from their county is going have not received answers, Tangen said. Tangen also said the Life Long Links program, which costs the CSS region $30,000 per month, has not released data on the number of people using it. A 24-hour triage system designed to field and direct information-seeking and other calls from the public, Tangen said most people do not use the service and call locally.

In other business, the supervisors approved a utility permit for Iowa Lakes Regional Water. County engineer Walter Davis-Oeth also updated the supervisors on the bid letting for the Emmet Hill Bridge, scheduled for January of 2018, and on the condition of the county's roads.

The next meeting of the Emmet County Board of Supervisors will be Oct. 31 at 9 a.m. in the board room of the Emmet County Courthouse.



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