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Houston County Courier - Local News

Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company

Burke Center still open here, mostly
Houston County Courier

By Lynda Jones
Managing Editor

The Burke Center in Crockett is still open and serving clients, although one of its programs is closing, according to Jake Squiers, chief operating officer. The Vocational Day Service Program has suffered dwindling attendance, and officials at the Burke Center are trying to be pro-active in preparing for significant cuts in state funding for mental health care. Squiers said in a phone interview that many of the vocational clients have already moved over to the Crockett Resource Center for Independent Living. He said other Intellectually Developmentally Disabled clients are transitioning over to the “very receptive” CRCIL for needed services. “We will continue to have a strong presence in Crockett,” he said. Squiers explained three programs continue to operate out of the Crockett building and they will continue to do so. Those programs are the mental health clinic, the early childhood intervention program and the mental retardation service coordination. However, Squiers said he is still very concerned about the predicted cuts in state funding. “The Burke Center will be significantly impacted,” he said. The Burke Center currently provides services across the 12-county Deep East Texas Council of Governments region. Squiers said a one million dollar cut in state funding from the Burke Center’s six million dollar budget is expected in September. Squiers said Burke Center officials are looking at a lot of strategies to employ so they can maintain their case load. “We are very committed to our clients,” he said. Houston County Judge Lonnie Hunt has stated that the proposed cuts in mental health funding concern him, also. “When citizens need mental health services and do not receive them, they often end up commiting a crime and being incarcerated in our county jail,” Hunt wrote in his “County Judge’s Report”, published in today’s Houston County Courier. “This is the worst thing that can happen. They don’t get the help they really need, things just keep getting worse, and you end up paying the cost to house them in the county jail.” Susan Rushing, chief executive officer for the Burke Center, was quoted by Robbie Goodrich in the Feb. 20 Nacogdoches Daily Sentinal, “You can cut mental health, but that doesn’t mean people with significant illness go away.” “They will still show up, and they will present in our hospital emergency rooms and to law enforcement,” she said, “or they will go without treatment, and it will manifest in other ways.”

 

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