Advocating for the people

The office of Webster County Community Services helps hundreds of individuals with disabilities every month, but Ken Hays, the office’s coordinator says his office and staff are able to do much more for people in need of assistance.

“I oversee the administration for mental health and help over see the case management,” said Hays. “My role is to be the department head for community services.”

On the case management side of the department, Hays said most individuals are assigned to a case worker who helps them in getting the assistance they need and that those services are provided to Medicaid eligible clients. The office also provides assistance to eligible individuals who may not meet the qualifications for case management.

“We do help individuals who maybe don’t meet all of the criteria under Medicaid ,” said Hays. “Sometimes people run into difficult situations where just meeting with someone can make a difference to get the help they need. We have a social worker who can assist those individuals.”

Hays said the office can help those who are not regularly served by Community Services with needs such as assistance for medications or help with transportation to out of town medical appointments.

“I encourage people with mental health issues or even those who have just experienced some difficulties to to call us,” said Hays. “We will make a determination of their eligibility and will connect them with the service they need.”

Hays has been with Webster County Community Services since 2003, and was named coordinator in February. Since then, his role has changed to include more administrative duties.

“I really like working directly with people,” he said. “I don’t get to do that as often now, but I assist whenever I can with intake and with assisting clients to get what they need.”

Hays also serves as Webster County’s voice for a new 21 county social services area that spans across the state from Pocahontas County east to the Illinois and Wisconsin borders and north to the Minnesota border.

“We now work together with 20 other counties,” said Hays. “For organization and legislation purposes we were required to affiliate a multi-county region over the past year.”

Prior to joining the staff at Webster County, Hays worked for Lutheran Family Services and was a youth and evangelism lay worker at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.

“I had the connection with Webster County because we worked with people who were funded and referred to us through the county,” he said. “Most everything I have done has been people focused work.”

Hays said one of the greatest rewards of his work has been seeing people whose lives have been changed because they sought the help of Community Services.

“It’s always encouraging to meet the folks we have helped who appreciate what we have done and have turned their lives around,” he said. “We try to advocate for those not able to speak for themselves; our goal is to get them to be able to live the happiest, healthiest lifestyle they can live.”