A management overhaul of TeamBuilders Counseling has rippled through the local nonprofit community, sending one drug prevention coalition searching for a new grant partner and support groups looking for new meeting space.
The defunct behavioral health service provider served as the fiscal agent for Taos Alive, which promotes awareness of drug abuse and policies to combat it. As a fiscal agent, TeamBuilders assisted the group in applying for grants and attaining approval from the Internal Revenue Service.
An undisclosed audit of Medicaid payments by the Human Services Department in June was alleged to have discovered financial misdeeds at TeamBuilders as well as 14 other behavioral health service providers. With its Medicaid payments suspended, the nonprofit’s leadership agreed in July to a takeover by Agave Health, the New Mexico subsidiary of Arizona-based Southwest Behavioral Health Services.
The change sent leaders at Taos Alive searching for a new fiscal agent.
“We wanted an agency with-in the community that knew what Taos Alive was doing,” program coordinator Julie Martínez told The Taos News, adding that the group was negotiating a new arrangement after reaching out to several local nonprofits.
It could take as many as four months for the IRS to approve a new fiscal agent for the group, Martínez said, during which time they would be unable to draw funds from government grants.
“We have not asked anyone to leave,” Southwest Behavioral Health Services CEO Jeff Jorde told The Taos News, adding that he was not informed of TeamBuilders’ role as a fiscal agent during the management overhaul.
“I had not been told by TeamBuilders about their relationship with Taos Alive,” Jorde said. “We would be more than interested to explore a collaboration. We do similar work with groups in Arizona.”
A spokesperson for the Human Services Department said the state was prepared to assist nonprofits transition their grants to one of the five Arizona companies contracted by the state to take over several of the 15 New Mexico behavioral health service providers to see their Medicaid payments suspended following the June audit.
“We have asked for each agency to disclose their contracts and obligations,” Matt Kennicott told The Taos News. “We will help make arrangements but they have to disclose those obligations first.”
Another complication emerged during the transition at TeamBuilders when community groups meeting at the nonprofit’s Taos offices were informed they could not use the space during the transition.
“We had appreciated the use of the space. It was convenient and welcoming,” Jason Pfeifer, who organizes a cancer support group that formerly met at TeamBuilders, wrote in an email to The Taos News. “I hope that it will be available again as so many groups in town had access to it.”
The group was now negotiating the use of another meeting space, he added.
Jorde said community groups were welcome to use the space in Taos and other TeamBuilders offices around the state had continued to accommodate nonprofit organizations. Santa Fe Public Schools, he said, would continue to use space at the TeamBuilders office in that city.
The key, Jorde added, would be building relationships with the community as Agave Health takes over what had been a prominent nonprofit in Taos and other New Mexico communities.