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Human Service priorities outlined

Every year, Forest-Warren Human Services receives $50,000 in development fund funding to cover the cost of needed programs specific to Warren County.

The Warren County Commissioners recently signed off on this fiscal year’s plan.

Human Services Administrator Ronna Tipton said the department wants to focus those funds on independent living services — essentially, a wide range of life skills assistance — for those with mental illness and those involved with Children and Youth Services who may not be otherwise eligible.

Tipton said the department “prevented the placement of five children because of that program.”

And that’s good news on multiple fronts.

“Placing five children would be very costly,” she said. “Training the mom in independent living skills is a very good thing.”

Some of that funding, she said, would also be utilized to fund a meals program for those with mental health issues that “essentially are shut-ins.”

Funding would also be implemented on a six-county regional basis for a mobile crisis service. She said that initiative hasn’t come to fruition yet but is a service that is “much needed” and “not ever been offered” in Warren County.

Housing will also be an area of focus.

“We spend a lot of money through housing projects… that essentially have vacant beds,” she said, hoping to “realign that funding” to be more productive.

Commissioner Jeff Eggleston said Tipton is “trying to be forward thinking in how to set them up (and) trying to address issues we have had for years but haven’t had the resources to be responsive on.”

Consulting Agreement

Kafferlin said this is a “compendium agreement” to one signed with their accounting firm, Zelenkofske & Axelrod, for guidance on how to utilize the CARES Act funding, roughly $3.5 million in federal COVID-19 relief the county has received.

He said the organizations are working “in tandem” and that the agreement would not exceed $10,000.

EMS Task Force

The commissioners also agreed to push back the expiration date on the county’s EMS Task Force through the end of the year. The Task Force is examining emergency response challenges throughout the county.

Kafferlin said he set the sunset date in July “simply to keep us on track” and to ensure a “definitive outcome.”

That timeline, though, was ultimately delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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