Commissioners OK social services worker addition

NEW ULM – Brown County commissioners unanimously approved adding back a mental health/chemical dependency supervisor position to the 2015 budget Tuesday.

Brown County Family Services (BCFS) requested approval to return to three full-time social service supervisor positions after operating for several years with two full-time social service supervisors.

The additional entry-level position was estimated to cost Brown County an additional $75,922 a year.

“If we did not have so much community development with facilities that serve an area larger than the county with hundreds of employees, we perhaps could get by with two supervisors,” wrote Adult Social Services Supervisor Barb Dietz. “In addition to all the program work that’s required to deal with clientele directly, we have an oversight responsibility for the state to ensure that the quality element of community facilities is guaranteed to taxpayers and to people needing the facility’s services.”

Dietz added that more than $16 million in Medical Assistance funds go through waivers to group homes and community services in people’s homes plus other facilities for other disability groups such as Nova House, detox, Enterprise North, MRCI, among others. “State and federal governments rely on BCFS to oversee these service providers, ensuring they serve the needs they are designed and paid for,” Dietz added. “It’s easier to do front-end than back-end changes like this. Other (nearby) counties rely on our facilities too.”

Commissioner Scott Windschitl asked if a part-time supervisor position could be added.

“There are options we can look at. We may have some chemical dependency program savings to work with,” said BCFS Director Tom Henderson.

“I assume Sibley County pays us administrative costs,” lay board member Judy Kuster said.

“That’s not the way it works. It would be nice if it was,” Henderson said.

“Can’t we just say ‘no’?” Kuster asked.

“That depends on the services,” Henderson said. Adult Social Services Supervisor Barb Dietz said Family Services wants to maintain good relationships with providers.

Commissioners approved:

The annual Children’s Mental Health Advisory Committee Report on current year plans, future plans, concerns and limitations including social media benefits and risks.

Future issues are training teachers and coaches to better understand mental health and how to work with kids daily and offering skills groups to kids focusing on Asperger’s/autism and social fitting in. Concerns are limited access to child psychiatrists in the area, offering early-intervention services and ending mental health stigma.

By a 4-1 vote with Commissioner Windschitl dissenting, a $2,500 subsidy request from the non-profit Lutheran Social Service Financial Counseling Service to maintain viable financial options and information services in Brown County. Previous subsidy requests were for $1,700 a year. Windschitl said he thought a 45 percent subsidy increase was “too much.”

Family Facilitator school contracts for county public schools except Comfrey which opted out of the program by their own decision, for the 2014-2015 school year. Programs would cost the county $10,585 excluding overhead and random moments revenue, which would more than cover the county cost, according to the RBA.

Purchasing a Brown County Family Services/Heartland Express bus for $69,916 from El Dorado National, Inc. Brown County is responsible for 20 percent ($13,983.20) of the allowed contract amount. The county Transit Reserve Account is $44,398.

New bus options are a $1,200 rear collision avoidance system and a $3,500 onboard, four-camera system. Both options will be required on new buses within the next few years, Brown County Heartland Express Operations Coordinator Pat LaCourse said.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).

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