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Human Services dept. faced challenges in 2009
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State of County Government

This is the third in a five-part look at Green County government departments based on each department head's annual report presented in July. The Health Department will be featured Friday.

MONROE - While there were challenges at the Green County Human Services Department in 2009 due to the sluggish economy, there were also opportunities to make it more effective, Greg Holcomb, Human Services director, told the Green County Board of Supervisors in his annual report in July.

Client numbers in the area of economic support continued to increase due to the down economy.

In 2009, human services worked with 112 households that were homeless or near homeless. Of that number, 55 were actually homeless.

Medical assistance and energy assistance participation increased by about 17 percent and 16 percent, respectively, in 2009, according to Holcomb.

He said the 2010 economy will be similar, if not worse, than 2009.

However, just as the department faced difficult challenges, it also made some changes to enhance services.

In 2009, the county's Aging Unit was combined with the Aging and Disability Resource Center.

Holcomb said the combination led to more effective and efficient help for the elderly and disabled.

The new agency was able to provide information about services, benefits and community resources to older adults, adults with disabilities, mental health issues or substance abuse issues, regardless of the client's income. Human services employees help connect the clients with the appropriate agencies and service providers.

The Disability Benefits specialist, which is part of the new combined agency, worked with 105 people in 2009 to help them receive Social Security or disability assistance. There were 71 people who filed for Social Security or disability assistance, and 50 were accepted.

The Family Care program began Jan. 1, 2009. The program's goal is to provide options for long-term care for seniors and disabled Green County residents.

Before the program began, there were 111 people on waiting lists for long-term care assistance, which included 34 frail elderly, 20 physically disabled people and 57 developmentally disabled, according to Holcomb. The problem was that there weren't enough people or resources at human services to help everyone who needed assistance. The list was depleted by October.

The program received added money from the state to assist the additional clients.

The department's mental health unit, which provides individual, family and marital counseling for Green County residents, also saw an increase in the number of people in need of help. There were 496 people who were seen for counseling in 2009, an increase of about 28 percent from 2008, Holcomb said.