Sedgwick Co. cuts funding to program for mentally ill

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WICHITA -- Shane Beck loves hanging out with his friends on Main Street but his daily hangout may soon be gone -- all because of a county decision.

Beck spends his days at the Breakthrough Club. It's a social and vocational program for people with a mental illness, run by Episcopal Social Services

Breakthrough, however, may not exist by Jan. 1.

Staff members tell KAKE News that Sedgwick County's Comcare program has completely cut off funding of the Breakthrough Club. A couple years ago, Comcare agreed to fund Breakthrough every year for five years with a $275,000 block grant.

"I lived a pretty isolated existence before I joined breakthrough and I would hate to go back to the way I was before," said Beck, who has been a member of the club for 10 years. "I was very sad about it because a lot of people rely on this program."

The club helps hundreds throughout the community and will likely end if it cannot find a way to supplement the resources, said project coordinator Marty Qui.

"We just really need it because we help people with jobs and education," Qui said. "Helping them become well. Our members would be devastated without this funding."

Breakthrough Club has existed since the late 1980's, but without it, members would likely struggle, Qui said.

"I expect some would be involved in substance abuse," she said. "Possible find themselves in jail or they may go to the emergency rooms more often, so the county would be serving them but in a different way."

KAKE News reached out to Sedgwick County's Comcare administrators about the decision on Breakthrough Club funding. They have not reached back with KAKE for comment.

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