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Dane County adds nearly $500,000 to 2020 budget for new mental health call center

Wisconsin State Journal - 12/24/2019

Dec. 24--{{featured_button_text}}

County Executive Joe Parisi

Dane County Executive County Joe Parisi added about a half-million dollars to the county's 2020 budget to create the Universal Access Resource Center, a "one-stop shop" for those dealing with mental and behavioral health issues.

SHANZEH AHMAD, STATE JOURNAL

Dane County will spend a half-million dollars next year to launch a call center to serve those suffering from addiction and mental and behavioral health problems.

The Universal Access Resource Center, set to open in the summer, is intended to connect callers with resources and treatment.

Josh Wescott, chief of staff to county Executive Joe Parisi, said the decision to add money for the center to the 2020 budget was made about a week after the $663 million budget was approved in November. Parisi said the budget, even before adding the call center funds, includes the county's "most significant efforts to date" in mental and behavioral health.

The County Board approved the spending on Thursday. State Rep. Shelia Stubbs, D-Madison, who also represents District 23 on the board, called the center a "one-stop shop" that should meet the needs of the county's most vulnerable.

The funds added to the 2020 budget cover the creation and upfront costs of the center, Wescott said, but its operations will be twice as much.

"I'd say it'll be around $1 million once it's up and running, which will be a conversation during next year's budget season for 2021," he said.

The center is a part of the C.J. Tubbs Fund for Hope, Healing and Recovery, an effort under the county's 2020 budget to better serve people recovering from mental illness and addiction.

Anna Moffit, director of the Dane County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said her group will continue to be involved as the call center comes to life. She called it a step toward getting people the help they need.

"It's going to be a really positive thing for our community and promising for the people who need more than someone just answering phone calls," Moffit said.

The center is a part of the C.J. Tubbs Fund for Hope, Healing and Recovery.

The center is a part of the C.J. Tubbs Fund for Hope, Healing and Recovery.

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Shanzeh Ahmad -- Wisconsin State Journal

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