WALKER -- Cass County Social Services expenditures are as projected in the budget after 67 percent of the year, despite the fact out-of-home child placements are running over budget.
Total out-of-home placement costs were at 69 percent of budget after August, with the county share at 70 percent of the total anticipated for 2002.
There were 98 children placed outside their homes in August, costing $241,452. More than half of that was for children placed in correctional facilities.
The county board Tuesday approved a 2003 Health Services budget, with the county share of costs to remain at $200,000. The total health budget will increase from $1,823,922 this year to $2,031,015 in 2003.
Brenda Erickson, social services financial supervisor, reported to the board that despite transferring some families from welfare programs to work in the last five years, the net caseload continues to be about 450.
The county board asked for a report at a future meeting to show where additional people now receiving benefits formerly resided before coming to Cass County.
The 60-month lifetime limit for receiving family general assistance and transitional aid to families with dependent children was reached beginning in July this year for families who have been receiving benefits consistently, Erickson said.
Some families have lost benefits, because they failed to participate in work or work-related programs, she said. As of September, six families had not received extensions beyond the 60 months, including one who quit a job because she said she did not need the money, Erickson said.
To qualify for benefit extensions beyond the 60-month lifetime limit, two-parent families must be in work activities at least 55 hours a week, with 45 hours in actual employment, Erickson said.
For one-parent families, the parent must be in work activities at least 30 hours a week, with 24 of these hours actual work.
Extensions also are offered to people who are ill or disabled, Erickson said, if a health-care provider verifies their condition. Extension participants cannot be sanctioned more than two of the last 12 months for refusing or failing to participate in work or work programs.
Eight families have qualified for extensions so far, Erickson said.
She expects more than 20 households to reach their 60-month limit in the next six months.
Health, Human and Veterans Services Director Dorothy Opheim reported to the board 231 children receive day child-care services under county administered programs, up from 160 three years ago.
There are 54 families on a waiting list to receive these services, Opheim said, partially because of budget limits and partly because of inadequate staff to process applications.
Child-care recipient parents must be going to school or working to receive the child-care services for their children, she added.
Because the county board has had a freeze on hiring any additional employees the last year, Opheim proposed to move child-care application processing from one specialized financial worker position to two or three financial workers and transfer Minnesota Care application services back to the state in the future.
Because the financial worker division will be short two permanent employees this winter because of maternity leaves, Opheim suggested temporary staff will be the immediate short-term solution where the least expertise is needed.
The board voted to apply to Region 5 to continue chore services under a $10,752 federal grant, senior health education under a $3,808 federal grant and senior health screening/foot care under a $4,772 federal grant.
Based on a recent Medicare cost study, the board voted to increase home visit rates for skilled nursing from $110 to $115 per visit and therapies from $120 to $130 per visit. Home health aide visits will remain at $30 per hour.
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