Panel backs requesting funds to expand 211 telephone service

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - A South Dakota legislative panel has endorsed requesting funding to expand a telephone program that helps connect callers with services for preventing suicide and addressing domestic abuse and child mistreatment.

The committee unanimously agreed Monday to ask for funds to expand the 211 telephone service across the state. The program currently receives about $500,000 each year from partners, and growing statewide would cost roughly $300,000 more.

Republican Rep. Herman Otten says he thinks it's a "step we need to take."

The group also decided they need additional time to figure out more ways to improve mental health services. The panel wants five task forces to examine different areas of mental health at a cost of roughly $95,000.

South Dakota's 2019 legislative session starts Jan. 8.

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