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Published: Wednesday, 8/19/2009

Mental health funds cut for 4-county services

ARCHBOLD, Ohio - Funding for mental health and addiction agencies in four northwest Ohio counties is being slashed because of recent reductions in state funding.

The final state budget for fiscal 2010, approved in late July, contained no allocations to local alcohol, drug addiction, and mental health boards for community mental health services. That has reduced the Four-County ADAMhs Board's state funding by about $1 million and comes on top of a $638,000 cut the funding agency sustained last fiscal year.

The board distributes mental-health grants to service agencies in Williams, Defiance, Fulton, and Henry counties.

Les McCaslin, the board's chief executive officer, said the impact will be hardest on agency clients who are neither eligible for Medicaid nor meet government criteria for severe mental illness, because the mental-health board is legally required to give funding priority for those areas. Mr. McCaslin said he expects to finalize his budget this week.

The funding cut last year primarily lengthened the time clients had to wait for noncrisis services, Mr. McCaslin said, and that condition is likely to worsen. Already stretched from 10 days or less to periods of several weeks, the wait for noncrisis services now is likely to be measured in months, he said.

Four agencies have lost their Four-County board funding entirely: the Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education programs in Defiance and Williams counties, Sarah's House of Williams County, and the Defiance Regional Medical Center's Coping Center.

Without an extra $427,600 in local levy funds from a replacement mental-health levy district voters approved last fall, Mr. McCaslin said, additional programs would have lost their funding.

"Services will be available, but we won't be able to provide them as quickly or extensively as we would like," the director said. "This will not be business as usual. You cannot lose $1.6 million in funding and continue business as usual."

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