Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 48° Partly Cloudy
News >  Spokane

Ex-director returns to county position

After a months-long search for a director of community services, Spokane County chose a familiar face: former director Christine Barada.

Barada left in 1996 after serving two years as director, a position in which she oversaw the county’s mental health system, and housing and community development programs.

She inherits a county mental health system that faces an estimated $7.5 million shortfall – nearly one-fourth of its budget – and is in the midst of broad cuts to services in the region.

“It’s going to be a challenging time – there’s no doubt,” said Barada, 53. “But if we work closely with the providers, I’m sure we can really try to do a better job of serving all the clients who need our help.”

Effective Oct. 1, the county plans to cut $450,000 a month to mental health agencies, leading to the layoffs of dozens of therapists and counselors, and the closing of one alternative high school.

The state’s Department of Social and Health Services plans to release an audit of the county’s funding crisis later this month, but state officials have indicated they have concerns about management of services and monitoring of contractors.

Barada, who begins work Monday, said she has closely followed the issue and plans to be briefed by county staffers. She indicated the county may seek a share of the $1.1 billion state surplus that was forecast this week.

“Maybe it’s time to go back to the table to see what the possibilities are to shore up the mental health system,” she said.

Barada replaces Kasey Kramer, who resigned in May after disclosing that he has early-onset Parkinson’s disease. She left her position in 1996 to raise her son, according to a county press release.

“She has a very inclusive, collaborative approach,” said David Panken, director of Spokane Mental Health, the county’s largest mental health contractor. “I believe she’ll get the right people to the table. I’m pleased.”

The county’s public mental health system, which serves several thousand people each month, has changed dramatically in the past decade. State and local officials say the Bush administration has aggressively transferred responsibility for mental-health care to local governments, and they anticipate further federal cuts in the next year.

Barada will also oversee developmental disabilities, substance abuse, and housing and community development programs.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.