Cerro Gordo County to potentially dismiss current mental health services provider

WATTS

Cerro Gordo County is taking strides to move away from County Social Services (CSS), a 22-county-wide mental health and disability services program, to Central Iowa Crisis Services (CICS), a similar organization that serves neighboring counties such as Franklin and Greene.

The need for change

Cerro Gordo County Supervisor Chris Watts said that it’s time for the county to pursue a service that can offer more immediate and personal help to people in need in the county.

“[CICS] seems like a better fit for all of Cerro Gordo County, including rural areas south of Mason City, where the people on the Franklin County border may know of CICS’s services,” explained Watts. “In my opinion, CSS is too big to function like it used to anymore. Sometimes, the phrase ‘bigger is better’ is not true.”

CSS serves 22 Iowan counties stretching from the Mississippi River to Emmet County, a four-hour drive in all. Watts explained that CICS appeals to the county because it currently serves just 11 counties and doesn’t aim to grow to CSS’s size. “In fact, CICS wouldn’t even accept Cerro Gordo if it weren’t for the facilities we can offer,” he continued. “We have Mercy’s hospital and offices, and Prairie Ridge.”

The Cerro Gordo County Board of Supervisors recently approved the motion to give CICS permission to perform financial research on the county; CICS will contact the state to find out if it can feasibly take on Cerro Gordo as a 12th jurisdiction.

Should the state decide that CICS and Cerro Gordo can form a partnership, the county must declare separation from CSS by Nov 1 of this year. However, the county won’t transition to CICS until the start of FY19.

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