Douglas County crisis center receives $750K in state budget

photo by: Contributed photo

The site plan for the Treatment and Recovery Campus of Douglas County shows the planned construction site for the project. To the left, listed as Douglas County Recovery Center, shows where a planned crisis center is expected to be constructed in 2021. To the right, listed as Tier II and Tier III Apartments, is the housing portion of the project that recently began construction.

The future Douglas County crisis center has the necessary funding for planning and construction costs.

State lawmakers approved the county’s request for $750,000 to finish the center as part of the state budget for fiscal years 2020 and 2021, which Gov. Laura Kelly signed into law Wednesday.

“It’s been an ongoing conversation and it’s been a conversation we’ve found to be very encouraging and supportive,” said Bob Tryanski, director of behavioral health projects for the county. “We are excited that support for our vision of a recovery and treatment facility is being embraced by our legislators.”

Funding for the center was a top legislative priority for the Douglas County Commission, the Journal-World reported in December. Securing the funding has been a nearly yearlong collaborative process between health leadership coalition partners and officials in Topeka, Tryanski said.

“We can breathe a little bit easier and our plans can continue to move forward,” he said. “We will be prepared to serve the needs of folks in Douglas County with mental health and addiction (issues) better in moments of their life that are really challenging.”

The timeline moving forward is for the transitional housing on the campus to be operational by the fourth quarter of 2020, Tryanski said. The crisis center is set to be built and open by the final months of 2021, barring any unforeseen circumstances brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Obviously the situation in which we find ourselves creates all types of possible interruptions to that timeline,” Tryanski said. “But for now we can continue to move forward with (construction) plans.”

The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services will oversee the center.

“KDADS is pleased to be a partner in this effort. This crisis center is one of the best examples of partnership between local government, different providers and the state, and demonstrates the successes that can be achieved when everyone comes together to address an important need in the community,” department secretary Laura Howard said in a statement to the Journal-World.

Securing the funding for the crisis center now allows county leaders to shift their focus to the factors that can put people in crisis — a lack of prevention efforts, lack of affordable housing, and a need for job skills, among other things.

“We know that meeting the needs of people in crisis is the result of not getting ahead of situations escalating to the point where people find themselves in crisis,” Tryanski said. “This just represents the benefits that happen when all of our partners and agencies come together and continue to speak with a common voice.”

Securing the funding for the center was key, as Kelly cautioned that lawmakers would have to tighten spending when they return from an extended recess on April 27. The state, in its efforts to address economic needs brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, spent over $100 million more from the State General Fund than Kelly initially recommended in January.

“As we get a handle on our new reality, I urge the Legislature to join me in showing fiscal restraint when they return for the annual wrap up session,” Kelly said in a news release announcing the budget’s signing. “It is critical that we act with utmost caution until we get a better sense of what the true budget implications of coronavirus will be.”

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