Janesville43.9°

Report: Rock County services need improvement

Print Print
ANN MARIE AMES
August 19, 2011
— The bad news is the system needs a lot of improvement.

The good news is the people in Rock County who work with people with addictions, mental illnesses or criminal records are enthusiastic about being part of the change.


California-based consulting firm Zia Partners has developed 12 recommendations for the county to create a system for delivering uniform services to people in the three categories. Such a system would negate duplicate services and give people a better chance of staying healthy and out of jail, according to a 103-page report released Wednesday.


Members of the Rock County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council on Thursday directed criminal justice analyst Elizabeth Pohlman McQuillen to file for a six-month extension on the $50,000 grant the county is using to study the issue.


Meanwhile, an ad hoc committee will study the report and could decide which recommendations would be a good fit for the county and most likely to succeed.


County officials have said that people with addictions or mental illnesses often end up in jail where they don’t get the treatment they need.


Creating a system for communication between police, court officials and service providers could improve that, council Chairman Marv Wopat said Thursday.


“I think it’s going to be cost effective, and I think it’s going to reduce a lot of the recidivism rates that occur when you’re not getting the people in the right place,” Wopat said.


The county is leading the charge, but the report did not address only publicly provided services. Improvements must be made to the way public and private service providers work to serve clients, the report states.


A group such as the criminal justice council is a big step in the right direction, the report states.


Council member Neil Deupree said he was happy to hear some positive news for the county.


“The consultants said that as they interviewed people in Rock County, they were impressed by amount of buy-in and awareness of the needs,” Deupree said. “Also, they were impressed by the lack of defensiveness. People are willing to say, ‘Yeah. We’ve got some issues we need to deal with, and here they are.’”


REPORT SUGGESTS 12 STEPS FOR IMPROVEMENT

County officials this week got a 103-page report on the state of mental health and addiction services in Rock County and how those services interact with the criminal justice system.


The report found good news and bad and made 12 recommendations for improvement.


Here’s the rundown:


The good: Residents, consumers, service providers, county staff and elected officials are enthusiastic about making improvements. Those involved have a “shared vision” about mental health services. Existing AODA and mental health services—inpatient and outpatient—are varied and excellent.


The bad: The county lacks a system to connect mental health services, addiction services and corrections. This is true for crisis and routine services for both adults and children. Without such an umbrella system, the county could be duplicating services, preventing families from maximizing support and discouraging community partners from participating.


This leads to overuse of the most expensive kinds of treatment such as out-of-county incarceration or detoxification.


The really good news: As long as everyone is willing to make improvements, changes don’t have to be expensive.


The recommendations

Here are the 12 steps Zia Partners recommends for improvement:


1. Establish a team to redesign and implement a mental health, addiction and criminal justice system.


2. Make services welcoming for individuals and their families. Make sure services are recovery-oriented and able to support people of different cultures with a variety of needs.


3. Work always to improve the quality of the system.


4. Collect data.


5. Make improvements in crisis intervention with a special focus on people with co-occurring disorders.


6. Make improvements to services for mentally-ill adults to treat people with complex needs. Make sure the services can treat people who have addictions.


7. Make improvements to addiction services for adults. Make sure the services can treat people with complex needs or mental illness.


8. Develop a system of care for children that addresses mental health and addiction.


9. Improve detention diversion for adults.


10. Improve detention diversion for juveniles.


11. Improve behavioral health services for people in jail and juvenile detention.


12. Improve access to housing, employment and peer support for individuals and families.



Print Print