WALKER -- Health and Human Services employees hope to work out a coordinated plan to target hard to employ Cass County people.
Brenda Erickson, income maintenance supervisor, and Ane Rogers, health services supervisor, told the Cass County Board Tuesday the county is eligible to receive a $61,395 grant to help people who are not participating in existing programs to prepare for and obtain employment.
Welfare reform calls for dropping people from income support benefits by July 2002 if they have consistently been receiving benefits for 60 months by that date, they explained.
To date, 85 percent of people receiving benefits have attended employment training sessions and are either seeking employment or are employed.
However, the other 15 percent, 64 people, now receive diminished benefits, because they have not participated in these training and job seeking programs the last month or two, they said.
Rogers and Erickson said they hope to have a plan ready for the board to consider by the end of this year which would propose in-home visits to most of these people to determine how they are living on reduced income and why they have not sought help to become employed.
Rogers public health home visit programs will be coupled with the social services employment home visits to offer additional support to families as they seek employment.
That program focuses on community efforts to support self sufficiency and help families move out of poverty, she explained.
The board then will consider whether to authorize the program. It could involve hiring another employee with the grant money to supervise or do the in-home visits, Rogers said.
Health and Human Services Director Dorothy Opheim reported her agency has been working with Leech Lake Reservation Social Services on this issue.
The reservation is interested in targeting people in this category on the reservation, she said. However, she has suggested the reservation then should also assume benefit management and social services as well for those people. Mille Lacs Band does this, she said.
That way one agency tracks all benefit payments and jobs programs, she explained, rather than county and reservation agencies trying to coordinate separate programs for the same individuals.
Opheim reported the area joint county board overseeing Cass's transition from Medical Assistance to the state pre-paid medical program hopes to begin client services under the new program by Jan. 1, 2001.
This will be dependant upon at least two medical insurance companies bidding to offer services to clients in the county, she said. Some other member counties may receive more bids, she anticipated, because of the high number of clients in Cass.
Clients must given a choice between at least two prepaid medical insurance programs under the state plan, Opheim said.
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