CHEROKEE, Iowa | Cherokee County has joined a regional agency that will jointly deliver mental health services beginning in July.

The County Board on Tuesday approved joining the Sioux Rivers Regional Mental Health and Disability Services group.

The Woodbury, Plymouth and Sioux county boards approved becoming part of the new agency last week. Cherokee County on Dec. 10 tabled its agreement for further consideration, but voted to move ahead Tuesday.

Cherokee County Community Services Director Lisa Langlitz said she's pleased with the four-county combination to deliver services.

"The four counties started discussions nearly a year and a half ago and a significant amount of time has been put into regionalization. I believe the board felt it was a good fit and they are ready to officially move forward," Langlitz said.

Sioux Rivers is the result of a reorganized state mental health system for low-income residents with mental, intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Each of the 99 Iowa counties previously offered services, with funding coming through local, state and federal governments. The Iowa Legislature approved the regional arrangement in 2012, with the goal of ensuring that all residents have similar access to mental health services, regardless of where they live.

Woodbury County Social Services Director Patty Erickson Puttmann said she's glad Cherokee County joined the regional team.

"The four counties working together, it is a good fit," Erickson Puttmann said.

The agreements lay out the board of directors, how the CEO is appointed and other details. The amount of money Sioux Rivers will have for a budget won't be set until 2014. How services will be delivered will be reported to the Iowa Department of Human Services by April 1.

Creating that management plan will involve detailing what services will be delivered in each county and the eligibility for people to access those services. New programs, such as a mental health court and counseling in K-12 schools now present in Woodbury County, could be added to the other smaller counties.

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