WALKER -- Cass County spent 80 percent of the Human and Veterans Services budget after 92 percent of the year had passed Nov. 30.
Savings have come by a major effort this year through establishment of a multi-departmental screening committee for children's out-of-home placements.
Child placement expenditures at the end of November were at 76 percent of budget ($2,442,947), with the county share being 88 percent of that expected budget ($2,184,178).
In November, there were 110 children in emergency shelters, group and foster homes and correctional facilities or receiving health, respite, transportation or court services.
Cass recovered more for child placement costs than the budget projected this year ($84,786) from SSI, Social Security, child support payments and other counties, but has received less than anticipated from federal Title IV-E payments. Part of this is because the county is repaying disallowed payments from previous years from this year's claims.
Tuesday, the county board approved Health, Human and Veterans Services background check policies for new employees, senior companion and veterans and senior drivers, foster care providers and licensed child-care providers. Day-care providers will be charged a $25 fee for processing the check.
Commissioners set a $50 per hour fee, beginning with a $200 down payment, to process child custody studies the court orders.
They set an updated policy on how it will be determined whether parents' incomes would allow them to pay for or toward their child's out-of-home placement costs and which people are financially eligible to be billed for detoxification services made available through the county.
They voted to participate in a program with the state if Minnesota is approved as one of 10 new participating states. This program would allow the county to use federal dollars paid through the state to pay the same rate to relatives taking custody of children or adoptive parents as is paid to foster care providers.
Children's Services supervisor Joan Helms said more children will be placed into permanent homes sooner if this is approved. She also indicated the 17 states where this has been tried have found overall costs are less in the long term.
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