A new police social worker program in McHenry County is the result of the county’s efforts to increase shared services among local governments.
Social workers in the new program will support police officers during mental health-related calls. They will connect residents to resources, follow up with cases and clients, and provide consultation to officers across the county.
ON TO 2050, the region's comprehensive plan, encourages local governments to pursue more service-sharing partnerships. The McHenry County Coordinated Investment Study recommended ways to pursue more service-sharing partnerships and other forms of intergovernmental coordination, such as joint purchasing. These arrangements can help local governments increase efficiency, improve quality, and expand access to services.
The new police social worker program is an example of such collaboration.
“This is a first-of-its-kind partnership between a county and municipalities. The program is extremely helpful for our smaller communities who do not have the staff or resources to have their own police social worker,” said Chalen Daigle, McHenry County’s shared services coordinator. “The county's most vulnerable residents or those experiencing mental health crises will be better served.”
The creation of the coordinator position was a key recommendation of the McHenry County Coordinated Investment Study. The study, published in early 2021, was supported by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP)’s technical assistance program. More than 40 local government units, including municipalities and special districts, provided feedback to inform the study. The study received a 2021 Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties.
“Developing the McHenry County Police Social Worker Program is a true success of the study and what it was intended to do,” Daigle said.