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HEYBURN — A non-profit family center that helps people regardless of ability to pay become sober is looking for more community support.

OATS Family Center, in the old Heyburn Simplot processing plant complex, offers sobriety counseling services and wants to make a switch to more community funding to relieve the paperwork pressure caused by insurance reimbursement.

Last year, 314 people came to the center for help. The prior year, the center had 283 clients.

The need for substance abuse counseling and the other services like outpatient, case management, family counseling, anger management and family and life skills are increasing, said Sally Hall, one of the founders of OATS and a licensed substance abuse counselor.

One of the main services the center offers is helping clients find other resources in the community to solve their problems like help with clothing or low-income housing.

“We are really good at connecting people with resources,” Hall said.

The center also is an advocate for clients as they go through the court system.

“You see people change when they feel like they have support,” Hall said.

About 60 percent of the clients are served for free. The center receives some reimbursement through other funding sources like Medicaid and private pay insurance.

“Many of them are living at the poverty level,” Hall said. “There is a huge need in the community and we don’t turn anyone away. We are committed to serving the community.”

The center has been open for more than 11 years.

“We are seeing more of a shift towards families needing help and kids acting out,” she said.

Due to the paperwork involved in receiving insurance and Medicaid reimbursement, the center would like to shift toward being supported more through community donation, which would free up more time for the counselors to serve more people.

“We are hoping the community will help support the center as we help people re-stabilize in the community,” Hall said.

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Verda Hutchison, the founder of OATS and its office manager, said she hopes to spark the interest of business sponsors along with individual donors.

“We have employers who send their employees here for help,” Hutchison said.

The center is also implementing a sponsorship program where individuals or businesses can support a client financially for a year and the clients will perform community service to pay back the help. The center also teaches sobriety skills at the jail at no cost.

“Support in the community takes a lot of time,” Hall said.

The center also focuses on recovery of the family and encourages parents to bring their children to center.

“Recovery is also about the family getting well,” Hall said.


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