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Sedgwick County Considers Public-Private Partnership For COMCARE

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Carla Eckels, File Photo
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KMUW

Sedgwick County’s community mental health center COMCARE wants to increase its presence and fundraising efforts in the community.

To do so, the agency is proposing a new public-private partnership.

COMCARE is the largest community mental health center in Kansas, but it lacks formal fundraising and development activities. Most community mental health centers in the state already use these options to supplement their funding stream.

The agency wants to create a non-profit “sister organization” and enter into a new public-private partnership with Sedgwick County.

COMCARE’s Executive Director Marilyn Cook says the non-profit would expand public awareness of services, promote volunteerism and begin fundraising for the agency.

"The hope would be with some increased fundraising and awareness that we could expand services at some point and decrease our dependence on county taxpayer money," Cook says.

Cook says COMCARE would still be a county organization under the direction of the Sedgwick County Commissioners.

Local business developer Jason Van Sickle would chair the non-profit and help organize the entity.

Cook says Van Sickle approached COMCARE late last year about forming a non-profit to support the agency’s operations. She says the goal is to bring in an outside business perspective and expertise to help enhance the agency’s efficiency.

The non-profit is expected to have a board of directors comprised of 15-20 community members from the medical, business and philanthropy community.

The commissioners will consider the proposal on Wednesday.

COMCARE has about 430 full-time employees, and its current budget is $41.6 million.

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Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar

 
To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.

 

Deborah joined the news team at KMUW in September 2014 as a news reporter. She spent more than a dozen years working in news at both public and commercial radio and television stations in Ohio, West Virginia and Detroit, Michigan. Before relocating to Wichita in 2013, Deborah taught news and broadcasting classes at Tarrant County College in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area.