Walworth County has one of the most comprehensive and integrated human
services departments in the state. How did the county reach this point?
In 1975 the Wisconsin Legislature passed s.46.23, enabling counties
"to develop and make available to all citizens…a comprehensive range of
human services…." This legislation encouraged the consolidation of local
programs serving the disabled and the indigent.
In 1987, the
Walworth County Board of Supervisors established a study committee to examine the issues involved in
such a consolidation. By the end of that year the County Board had voted to
create the Walworth County Human Services Board and to fold its social services
department, developmental disabilities department, and Lakeland Counseling
Center into the Department of Human Services.
(Developed largely with federal funds, the Lakeland Counseling Center was
a county-operated comprehensive community mental health center providing mental
health and substance abuse services through contractual arrangements with
Walworth County’s 51.42 board. This board received state
aids to help provide those mental health and substance abuse
February, 1988 the Human Services Board hired an executive director of the
new Department. Later that year the County Board voted to include the
Department of Aging in the new department’s operations. The following year the County
Board added the Department of Public Health.
From its beginning the Department of Human Services focused on developing a
human services organization that served the community through a single point of entry for accessing
services and 24/7 Crisis Intervention services.
In addition, the Department worked to consolidate administrative functions,
to realign personnel classifications into more generic categories, and
to develop an integrated client information system.
Effective January, 1996 the Department of Human
Services assumed responsibility for
the county’s Emergency Management program and in 1998 for the Child Support
Enforcement department. However, in 2002 the Emergency Management program was
transferred to the Sheriff's Department.
Now officially known as the Department of Health and Human
Services (DHHS), the department manages an annual budget of more than $27 million to provide services
divided among the following major programs areas:
Aging & Disability Resouce Center/Aging
and Long Term care
Health/Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (AODA)