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Mental health agency plans shutdown, looks to other providers

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CLINTON — The primary provider of outpatient mental health services in DeWitt County will begin shutting down July 1, a casualty of the state budget impasse, the agency executive director said Monday.

The board of the DeWitt County Human Resource Center (HRC) voted to cease providing services after June 30, Executive Director Lynn Scoville said.

But HRC is working with other Central Illinois health providers to determine whether they can assume responsibility for HRC programs.

"Our goal right now is to make sure our clients are taken care of," Scoville said. Then she paused to cry. "And to make sure they are taken care of in our community. That's our goal."

She declined to name the other agencies because negotiations are ongoing.

"It truly is heartbreaking the way the State of Illinois has set its priorities," Scoville said. "I don't care what side of the aisle you're on."

"The mental health board is saddened by the news of HRC discontinuing client services as of June 30," said Sharon Mills, administrator of the DeWitt County 708 Community Mental Health Board. "There is no other agency in DeWitt County providing the array of services they do."

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"We are working with HRC to see what we can do to help reach out to other providers," Mills said.

HRC serves about 500 people in DeWitt County. Services include outpatient mental health therapy and counseling, case management to assist clients to live independently, 24/7 crisis intervention for people experiencing a psychiatric emergency, psychiatric services, mental health and substance abuse early intervention and developmental training/day programming for people with developmental disabilities.

Some people with developmental disabilities work in HRC's Encore Thrift Store. HRC also owns and provides staff for Kleemann Village — apartments for low-income adults with mental illnesses — but the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provides funding.

About 65 percent of HRC money comes from the state and federal governments, 20 percent from local property tax money and the remaining 15 percent from thrift shop operations and other HRC income.

But, since June 30, 2015, because there is no state budget, HRC has received no state grant money.

HRC has gotten through the year by moving money from programs that made money to programs that don't make money, by getting money in advance from the Mental Health Board, by reducing numbers of employees from 30 to 18, and by getting a line of credit from a bank.

But the line of credit is not being extended and "there is no (state) budget, no plan and no stopgap in place," Scoville said. Gov. Bruce Rauner has declined to sign the stopgap approved by the General Assembly.

"We are out of money," Scoville said, estimating that HRC is owed $150,000 by the state.

The thrift shop will remain open until all merchandise is sold. Kleemann will remain open because it's HUD-funded, but "the question is, who will provide support to clients?"

Follow Paul Swiech on Twitter: @pg_swiech

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