Pay more taxes?
Yes, and gladly so to help sustain resources that are core to the health and well-being of each and every one of us who resides in Island County.
With the July 2007 passage of the sales tax for mental health, the Island County commissioners moved our region forward to a sustainable base of prevention and intervention resources. At a dime for every $100 spent locally, this tax reflects the good will of the citizenry. This affordable, cost-sharing strategy will result in huge gains in Island County, including:
• Expansion of mental health professionals in all four school districts.
• Resources for outpatient mental health services for individuals who are not eligible for publicly funded services and do not have insurance.
• Early childhood mental health professional.
• Senior and Vulnerable Adult Outreach Program
• Expansion of mental health services in the Island County jail and juvenile detention center.
• Expansion of juvenile and adult drug court.
• Therapeutic court for dependency proceedings.
The promise of a local therapeutic court is especially good news for children who await the outcome of dependency proceedings in our region. Designed to achieve a reduction in child abuse and neglect, out-of-home placement, termination of parental rights and substance abuse or mental health symptoms among parents or guardians and their children, therapeutic courts are demonstrating positive results throughout Washington.
There is a critical shortage of available foster homes in Island County. This means that our children are enduring multiple out-of-home placements, far from this community and from the schools, neighbors and friends that they know well.
For those who serve as resource parents (foster, kin, and grandfamilies) thank you! Take heart, major improvements in support resources are under way. Your voices are being heard.
For those who want to help kids-in-care but are not sure how:
• Share a bundle of school supplies or a bit of cash donation to Readiness to Learn, Back to School Project. It will make sure your contributions reach children in-care. (360-221-6808 x 4602)
• Learn more about becoming a foster parent. If full-time foster-parenting is not something you can do, consider providing occasional respite care for foster parents. To learn more: Dept. Child/Family Services 1-800-760-5340 (www1.dshs.wa.gov); Service Alternatives 1-425-345-2853 (www.servalt.com); Olive Crest 1-800-743-6783 (www.olivecrest.org).
• For neighbors, teachers, and family friends who share long-time, healthy relationships with a child who is being removed from home, new legislation opens opportunities for you to provide safe haven for the child you know, even if you are not licensed. For more info: OH-DCFS 1-800-743-0117
• Consider becoming Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and advocate for the best interests of a child who is enduring dependency proceedings in our region. To learn more: 360-240-5560 (www.washingtonstate
• Join other community members who are engaged in a learning endeavor designed to generate strategic investments that will lead to sustainable improvements in Island County’s foster care system. The Community Network meets the third Friday of each month, beginning Sept. 21. For more info: 360-331-5636 (www.fpc.wa.gov).
The solutions are in our hands. We are the ones we have been waiting for!
Patti Carroll represents the Island County/Stanwood Community Network.