Commissioners approve training request

NEW ULM – Brown County commissioners approved a child protection training request for a new family services employee Tuesday.

The five-day Corner House basic interview training not conducted by the Department of Human Services (DHS) costs $1,100 plus expenses. The training is considered essential for child protection workers who have not worked in other counties,.

Funding would come from approved, unattended annual conferences.

Commissioners also:

Received a DHS report of 2005 to 2012 child protection assessment and investigation ratios in Brown, Blue Earth, Cottonwood, Le Sueur, Nicollet, Renville, Sibley and Watonwan counties.

Brown County had the highest percentage of family assessments (89.2 percent in 2012, compared to Nicollet County at 84.7 percent, Cottonwood at 80 percent, Blue Earth at 78.3 percent, Watonwan at 76.9 percent, Renville at 73.7 percent, and Sibley at 66.2 percent.

Family assessments are preferred responses when safety conditions permit because research shows most children are safer under those conditions, especially when they are provided needed resources and services.

Unanimously approved a Family Facilitator county/school funding formula change effective July 1. Changes consider reimbursements obtained by counties and school districts are now divided 50-50. The old formula had a “county-first” basis for Targeted Case Management and a 48 percent Special Education limit, according to the RBA.

Previously, Brown, Sibley and Watonwan counties administered the Family Facilitator program in their own way and at the collaborative 3 Counties for Kids. The new formula is expected to add program costs to the county levy and keep the program in all school districts. The program could prevent some families from having out-of-home placements that are costly to school districts and counties.

Learned from South County Health Care Alliance CEO Leota Lind that the Minnesota Association of County Health Plans (MACHP), including South Country, decided to pull the county-base purchasing (CBP) bill (HF 2826) after the Minnesota Department of Human Services’ written response was not supportive of key county and CBP bill provisions.

“Without administration’s support of the bill, we likely would not succeed in getting the bill passed this session, based on key legislators’ comments,” Lind wrote in a March 17 e-mail to Brown County Commissioner Andy Lochner.

Lind said New Ulm Medical Center was one of South Country’s new pay for performance providers, reducing emergency room use and other cost-saving measures. “They’re also working on child welfare visits in the first 15 months of life, diabetes screening and consulting with nurse practitioners on nursing home residents’ needs. We’re excited about this opportunity,” she said.

Approved receiving $507,000 in 2014 AgBMP loan funds through the county water planning department. The program provides low-interest loans to farmers interested in implementing conservation practices to prevent or reduce feedlot and farm field runoff, or projects that reduce existing water quality problems caused by agriculture activities or failing septic systems.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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