History

Spring River Mental Health & Wellness, Inc. was incorporated September 11, 1981 as Cherokee County Mental Health Center, Inc. The original incorporators were: Norma Blankenship, David Boyd, Hal Leonard, Curt Garrett, Carol Qualls, Frank Ross, Kathryn Messenger, Miss Jerry Hopkins and Sheldon Tucker.

The Cherokee County Mental Health Center was founded in Cherokee County to continue providing mental health services because the umbrella organization that it had operated under was disbanding because of a loss in federal funding. This funding loss was expected as the organization had been started on an eight year funding cycle and the cycle was complete. There were two employees when the agency was incorporated.

1985 – A social club model of psychosocial rehabilitation for severe and persistently mentally ill adults was funded by a grant from SRS – Mental Health and Retardation Services. There were a total of 9 full-time and 2 part-time staff members by the end of 1985.

December 1986 – Dr. George Belcher donated the equity in his medical clinic at 201 West Walnut in Columbus to Cherokee County Mental Health Center. In April 1987, the administrative offices were moved from Baxter Springs to the newly remodeled and decorated facility in Columbus.

June 1987 – The name was changed from Cherokee County Mental Health Center, Inc. to Family Life Center, Inc.

August 1989 – Family Life Center was selected by the Eleventh Judicial District to administer the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program (ADSAP). This program evaluates and educates DUI offenders in Crawford, Labette and Cherokee Counties.

June 1990 – Family Life Center was selected by the Eleventh Judicial District to also administer the Parenting in Divorce (PID) program for the same three counties.

1990 – The Cherokee County Commission passed a general obligation bond to finance new outpatient buildings in Galena and Baxter Springs. During that same year, the Community Support Programs Clubhouse was completely updated and remodeled.

1991 – The first big service expansion occurred when the legislature passed the Mental Health Reform Act. This act gave much authority to the counties through their local mental health centers in committing persons to state mental hospitals.

This three-year phase in project resulted in 5 new staff for Family Life Center, Inc.

1991 – Family Life Center was in need of administrative office space to accommodate our expansion. The Columbus facility was added on to, providing the much-needed space.

October – 1994, Family Life Center, along with four other Mental Health Centers was funded for specialized service for children. This program called Kan-Focus was intended for early treatment of children with emotional disorders and their families. In 1995, a supplemental grant, Project Before, was awarded. This program focused on children and families with a high risk for substance abuse adding to the psychological, social and emotional problems. By 1996 a total of 6 full-time and 6 part time staff worked in these two programs.

1995 – The City of Galena agreed to sponsor a Community Development Block Grant to partially fund a much needed community center type building for Family Life Center in Galena. It was completed in April 1996 and housed Community Based Services for Children.

1995 – The 1,600 square foot basement in the Baxter Springs office was finished to add the needed space for children’s mental health programs.

1997 – Family Life Center was asked by the Cherokee County Commission and, Juvenile Judge Bill Lyerla to assist the County in implementing the recently passed Juvenile Justice Act. This act gave responsibility to the local County or their designee, responsibilities for local programs and oversight of juveniles in the legal system. Juvenile Intake and Assessment Services and a Juvenile Offender Day Reporting Program were the first services for the newly hired staff.

1998 – Family Life Center was asked to administer the Minors-In-Possession program. An education program for minors arrested possessing alcohol or other drugs. This was undertaken by Family Life Center’s Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program.

1999 – The 11th Judicial District asked SRMHW’s Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program, ADSAP, to begin monthly monitoring services for non-violent drug and alcohol offenders. This structured program was designed and started in January 2000. It is a 12 month program and averaged 43 offenders per month receiving services.

1999 – The federal funding for Kan-Focus program ended. The State of Kansas Mental Health Authority funded the continuation at about one-half the amount of federal funds SRMHW had received. By prudent management we learned to maximize third party funding and were able to continue nearly all of the programs that this funding allowed us to develop.

2001 – Our Juvenile Offender Day Reporting Program had outgrown the building it was in. Family Life Center rented office space inside a warehouse and moved the program which averaged about 17 youth reporting daily.

2001 – Family Life Center was awarded one of two grants in the state to design and pilot a “Blended Funding” program for youth entering the legal system. The goal of our program was to quickly evaluate youth’s mental health, substance abuse and juvenile justice needs and to get them into services quickly. The program was developed with a Community Advisory Board and continues to offer all services although the grant funding has ended. A full report on the program was completed by the University of Kansas citing it’s achievement of self-sufficiency and replicability.

September – 2001 Family Life Center was awarded three plaques and seven framed certificates by the State Director of Mental Health Services for exceeding our contracted outcomes, excelling in consumer satisfaction and helping consumers remain in the community (hospital free).

Late 2002 – The Parenting-In-Divorce program was expanded at the request of the District Court to assist the Court in implementing a new law requiring divorcing parents to be educated about cooperative development of a living plan for their children and of the effects of domestic violence on children.

The staff had grown from two employees in 1981 to 35 full time, 7 part time employees and 4 contract employees in 2002.

Summer 2002 – Growth continued rapidly in all program areas and Family Life Center was out of space and operating in cramped quarters in five buildings in three cities. Family Life Center’s Board of Directors began searching for a site for a new larger facility. Construction began

August 2003 – Construction began on a 28,000 square foot facility in Riverton to allow the consolidation of the three buildings in Galena, one in Baxter Springs and the administrative offices of the agency.

2003 – Outpatient services were provided by Family Life Center to 1374 Cherokee County residents. An additional 1320 people were served by the other programs SRMHW offers to area residents.

June of 2004 – The above mentioned facility was completed and all services from Galena and Baxter Springs were operating from the new offices. The facility contains a day care for SRMHW’s staff’s children and the general public.

July 2004 – Planning began for the remodel and updating of the Columbus offices. The office was remodeled and furnished with the same intent as the Riverton project and that is to provide clients with a modern, attractive facility and to provide staff with an efficiently designed workplace that will assist them in meeting the client’s needs for many years to come. The remodel was completed in January 2005.

May 2005 – Family Life Center was the recipient of the John Paton Award for Distinguished Service, given for demonstrated excellence in program and service delivery that improves the quality of care for clients. This was awarded for a successful foster care diversion program that works to prevent placement of Cherokee County youth into foster care. This innovative program has resulted in reducing foster care placements by approximately 50%.

2005 – Family Life Center’s Board of Directors created and staffed a Development Department to assist in diversifying funding and to achieve their goals of moving toward a holistic approach to health/mental health by building a recreation and wellness center for Cherokee County citizens to use to improve their general health.

2006 – Family Life Center began its first capital campaign to build a Recreation and Wellness Center for our clients and all Cherokee County citizens and a new daycare facility

to allow us to expand that program to serve more children and the respond to the need for after school childcare for working parents.

2007 – Family Life Center’s development efforts are progressing well. A new Corporation was formed to operate the childcare program, Big Top Education Center, Inc. For the first time in many years service demands leveled off for most of the services we provide for adults. We prepared for changes in the mental health funding arena. The State of Kansas transitioned to a modified managed care model of reimbursement for Medicaid mental health services which will affect the way we provide services.

2008 – Much of the year was spent planning and implementing internal systems changes to fit with the Medicaid Managed Care system in Kansas. In order to make our mental health center more responsive we underwent a reorganization of our clinical services departments. Those changes helped us respond to an altered funding method and to respond better to client needs. Our capital campaign efforts were slowed somewhat from the economic downturn; however, we are continuing to gain on our goal to raise $2.2 million.

2009 – The year began with bad news about mental health center funding as a result of the downturn in the economy. Fortunately the reorganization we underwent in 2008 helped us to survive significant grant funding cuts without cutting services to our clients. We are aware of more funding cuts to come and will prepare for these cuts in order to provide necessary services to as many clients as we can. We are enthusiastically topping the hill for our fundraising efforts and anticipate a ground breaking date for the Community Heath Education and Wellness Center late in the year.

2011 – Family Life Center, Inc. changes its name to Spring River Mental Health & Wellness, Inc.

Currently, Spring River Mental Health & Wellness, Inc. provides a vast array of mental health, substance abuse and juvenile justice services. We have a total of 82 employees working in all areas of behavioral health.

Provision of mental health, substance abuse and juvenile justice services is changing rapidly. It is strongly influenced by efforts to reduce rising costs and increase effectiveness and to pass what were State responsibilities to local units of government. Efforts to privatize services previously provided by the State of Kansas and implementation of managed care systems are a constant force for change. We continue to adapt to these challenges while we keep our focus on the best interest of the consumer and the payer. Staff is involved extensively in creating services that meet the specific needs of clients and communities in Cherokee County.