EVANSVILLE — A center set to open at United Caring Services to help residents deal with mental health and substance abuse problems received a financial boost in December, but its supporters wanted It wasn’t the amount I paid for.
The UCS Diversion Center, an emergency room and alternative option to the Vanderborough County Jail for those in need, has applied for funding from the Biden administration for the Rescue America Program, which Vanderborough County will receive in 2021. One of the local organizations.
SWIRCA & More, Easterseals Southwestern Indiana, and Diversion Center each sought $500,000 in plans sent to the County Council by the Bunderborough County Commissioner.
Instead, after months of failing to make a decision on the amounts, members of the Vanderborough County Council unanimously voted to cut these demands to $300,000 each.
Conversion centers now have to make some difficult choices, such as how many days a week they will be open.
UCS Board President Stephanie Weiner said the company will have to decide whether it will operate three days a week for three years or four days a week for two and a half years. Ultimately, I hope to have 4 days a week for 3 full years.
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“We still need the other $200,000,” she said.
long wait for money
Diversion Center supporters and other nonprofits seeking ARP funding have waited a long time to find out what they will receive.
A $300,000 motion was filed in December by County Council Speaker John Montrastelle. Recommendations on how to use ARP money were issued by the Commissioner in June.
The Council heard enthusiastic comments from several Diversion Center supporters in November. At the time, there was concern that the approval process would take a long time. The county council was criticized for not having a vote on funding to help open the center.
UCS has $300,000 in ARP funding to operate the Diversion Center approved by the Evansville City Council. The city has also pledged to approve an additional $300,000 in 2023.
Supporters, including former UCS director Jason Emerson, told county lawmakers that the money they approved would make the difference in how many days or years the center could operate.
During a pre-vote debate in December, Rep. Stephanie Terry asked if other legislators understood how the budget cut decision affected the center as a whole.
“From their package, I think it’s going to have a little impact,” said Montrastell. “They were actually betting $500,000.”
Auditor Brian Garth said he believes the center is already open three days a week and that funding from the commissioner will allow it to open another day. Councilor Jill Hahn agreed and said she had it in her notes.
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But it’s not exactly. The center is not yet open.
Weiner told Courier & Press: “So we have some funding guaranteed right now and we are looking for an executive director, but it will be the first time this year that we are actually ready and able to hire.”
But they will hire, Weiner said. They promise he will open in 2023. And they are working to find the funding to keep him open for three full years for four days.
“We’re going to keep knocking on doors,” she said. “Every door you can find.”
This could also include the same pot of ARP dollars for counties approved this time.
After EasterSeals, UCS, and SWIRCA receive $200,000 less than requested, the county will vault $600,000 of ARP funds. County commissioners may submit new requests involving funding for the same organization.
Winner said UCS is also encouraged to apply for grants from the Evansville Regional Economic Partnership. The amount they are entitled to receive is ARP dollars that E-REP maintains for the county. The council has approved $60,000 for him to pay E-REP for that activity, but has yet to vote on the actual amount going to the nonprofit.
UCS relies on “community support and good will,” Weiner said, whether it’s from governments, businesses, or individuals.
“For better or worse, we will continue to knock on doors as long as we exist,” she said.
Opening in 2023
Weiner said he can’t wait to see the Diversion Center. But she said it wasn’t all that strange for a new and “unconventional” idea.
“I think it’s a very positive[project]for both the people we serve and the taxpayers,” she said. “Those two things don’t always go together. .”
A full staff is required to open. In addition to the Executive Director of both the UCS and the Diversion Center, the Center will be staffed with a case manager and her EMT.
“To say this is a pilot project is a bit of an understatement, but we have to prove our worth.” If you think about it, in two and a half to three years, we’ll be able to gather the data to prove it and find more funding.”
Other American Rescue Plan requests approved in December include:
- Southern Indiana Mentoring Academy – $50,000
- Health Department Premium – $58,000
- Evansville Regional Economic Partnership – $60,000 to act as grant custodian for ARP funds available to Vanderborough County nonprofits