SIOUX CITY | The Woodbury County Board on Tuesday approved a final sharing agreement for the delivery of mental health services through the new four-county Sioux Rivers Regional Mental Health and Disability Services group.

Beginning July 1, Woodbury, Plymouth, Cherokee and Sioux counties will work together in the reorganized state mental health system for low-income residents with mental, intellectual and developmental disabilities.

County Board member Jackie Smith, of Sioux City, said the Iowa Department of Human Services has signed off on the Sioux Rivers plan, a step that had to be completed in April. Smith expressed approval that the four counties had cooperated to come up with a workable regional plan in line with major reform passed by the Iowa Legislature in 2012.

Each of Iowa's 99 counties currently offers services individually. The shift to a regional system is meant to ensure that all residents have similar access to mental health services, regardless of where they live.

Services will continue to be delivered locally under the change to regional administration.

The agreement lays out how the counties will cooperate but doesn't specify which services will be provided in each of the four counties. Woodbury County Social Services Department Director Patty Erickson Puttmann didn't attend Tuesday's County Board meeting to discuss program details and did not immediately return phone calls seeking more information Tuesday afternoon.

Officials have previously said new programs, such as a mental health court and counseling in K-12 schools now available in Woodbury County, could be added to the other counties in Sioux Rivers.

The agreement explains how the board of directors will be chosen, how the CEO is appointed and other details. Some funding will be pooled in the new entity, but some money will remain with the individual counties. An annual audit by a state-certified public accountant is required.

Shane Walter, director of the Sioux County Community Services Department for 17 years, will be CEO of Sioux Rivers.

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