Family Facilitator program review indicates need for its services

NEW ULM – Brown County commissioners reviewed the Family Facilitator Program and learned about its 2013 goals Tuesday.

The voluntary, multi-county program that provides services at low cost to schools, has eight workers, four in Brown County, two in Sibley County and one and one-half full-time positions in Watonwan County. In 2012, it served 179 children and 80 families. About 73 percent of the children served were age 12 and under.

The program is designed to improve communication among schools, families and county services. It provides case management and parenting/family skills as well as programming for children and parents to enhance social skills and exposure to experiences not otherwise available with frequent contact and support at home, school, and therapy sessions.

Outings have included trips to Minnesota Twins games, the Minnesota Zoo, parks and water parks.

New Ulm Family Facilitator Sandi Koop said more and more younger children are being diagnosed with mental health issues. Students can request Family Facilitator services themselves.

The Brown County program is very stable with the same staff for several years. The most significant program change has been a shift from child welfare emphasis to children’s mental health emphasis, according to the RBA. The change improved the program funding base, but it took away some of the original preventative approach for young children that the program was meant to serve.

Goals for 2013 include getting the Sibley East position re-integrated into the school system, establishing consistent screening meetings at the school, providing cultural training for working with Hispanic families, increasing Butterfield referrals, focusing on elementary students and updating resource lists.

In other action, commissioners:

Tabled a behavioral consulting services contract through Dec. 31, 2015 Tuesday. Rates, now at $75 an hour, would increase to $82 from March 1 to Dec. 31, 2013; $85 from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2014 and $89 from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2015. There has not been a rate increase for seven years.

Authorized the auditor-treasurer’s office to close the Tax-Forfeited Land Sale for all parcels except parcels in Blocks 2&3, Dakota West Addition and parcels in the Minnesota River Valley Subdivision.

Approved a resolution grouping Dakota West Addition parcels to enhance the sale.

Approved a resolution with minimum sale price and sale terms for Dakota West Subdivision lots. Parcel sizes range from .27 to 1.74 acres. Minimum prices range from $7,500 to $25,000. Assessments to be amortized upon construction range from $25,922 for most lots, to $51,844 for lots more than one acre.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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