Saturday, February 25, 2012

Human Services and County Board Meetings held February 21, 2012

Cook County Human Services Board Meeting
Human Services Board Chair Sue Hakes opened the meeting at 8:30 am.  Other board members participating were Jan Hall, Jerry Lilja, Bruce Martinson, Fritz Sobanja.  Carla LaPointe and Jim Johnson were excused.

Committee Reports
Committee reports were given by member representatives.  If you are interested in learning more about Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency, Arrowhead Health Alliance, Arrowhead Regional Corrections, Community Health Board, Public Health & Human Services Advisory Committee, Health Care Planning or the North Shore Collaborative, please contact me and I'll connect you with the right person.

Elderly Waiver and Alternative Care Grant Funding Programs and Services
Barb Rasmussen, Cook County Social Worker, presented the Board with an overview of the Elderly Waiver (EW) and Alternative Care Grant (AC) programs and services she works to provide qualifying Cook County residents in need.  Both EW and AC are funding mechanisms currently in place to provide in-home services to those 65 and older that wish to and are able to stay in their homes with the support of community services.

To determine eligibility for EW or AC, an assessment is conducted by a Long Term Care Consultation Team.  To be eligible, an individual must be 65 years or older, meet nursing facility level of care criteria, be eligible for medical assistance (EW), or have income and assets to pay for more more than 135 days of nursing facility services (AC).  Examples of services provided in the EW program are in-home meals and emergency phone equipment.  The AC program provides day care, skilled nursing, housekeeping services and more.

Rasmussen currently manages 5 Elderly Waiver cases and 1 Alternative Care case for Cook County.  Clearly the management of these cases is complicated, but according to Rasmussen "it works!".  And, due to the competence and diligence of Rasmussen, "it works well".

Trauncy Process
Grace Bushard, Social Services Supervisor, updated the Board on a new process to address Truancy at ISD 166 Cook County Schools.  MN State Law requires students attend school every day.  A student who is absent (3) or more days in a school year without being excused by a parent or guardian is a "continuing truant" by state law.  If truancy continues a student is considered a "habitual truant" and this can lead to serious consequences. Bushard, the Cook County Attorney's Office, the School Community Action Team (SCAT) are all working with the school, parents, and students to address the truancy problem in ISD166.  19 families met with Assistant County Attorney Hicken and Social Services to understand the consequences of truancy and sign an Attendance Contract between the student, parent/guardian and school.

Director's Report--Sue Futterer
Public Health and Human Services Director Sue Futterer reported on the recent Region 3 Redesign Meeting noting that Child Support will be the next area considered.  (Redesign is about finding better ways to provide services to Minnesotans and Region 3 Human Services has been a leader in this effort.)

Futterer reported that TEXT4Life, a suicide prevention hotline for teens, is catching on.  So far, approximately 3-6 text messages/day are being received from teens in the 7 participating NE Minnesota Counties.  This number is roughly equal to all telephone calls being received statewide.  The suicide rate in Northern Minnesota is higher than average; this program was born out of efforts to change that.

With regrets, Futterer asked the Board to accept the letter of resignation from Amy Lacina, RN/PHN.  The Board did so, and also approved Futterer's request to advertise to fill the Public Health Nurse vacancy left by Lacina.  

Cook County Board Meeting 
Board Chair Jan Hall and Commissioners Hakes, Martinson and Sobanja were all present for the February 21 County Board Meeting.  Jim Johnson was absent due to health issues.  Also present were Braidy Powers and Janet Simonen.

Public Comment
No member of the public opted to address the County Board.

Mush for a Cure Fun Run
The County Board approved the special event permit for the Mush for the Cure Fun Run to be held March 9-11 on the Gunflint Trail.  

Board of Appeal and Equalization Meeting
The Cook County Board of Appeal and Equalization Meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 6:30 pm in the County Commissioner's Room.  In an effort to ensure that taxpayers will have equal time before the Board at this meeting, allotted appointment times will be given.  Contact County Assessor Mary Black at or 218/387-3650 to learn more.

County Veteran's Service Officer Operational Improvement Grant
The Board accepted a $1400 Operational Improvement Grant to be used by Cook County Veteran Services Officer Clarence Everson for the purchase of approved equipment or training.

Support Services Agreement
The County Board authorized moving forward with a contract to allow County Integrated Financial Systems (IFS) users to access on-line training and support for the new version of our accounting software.  The cost is $30/month and will be shared equally by PHHS and the Auditor's Office.

Architectural Services Payment
Last November, the County Board authorized Meyer Group up to $5,000 (plus reimbursable expenses budgeted at $750) for architectural services in designing a modest Recreation Building that would provide a space for ice skaters to warm up and change, store the zamboni and possibly provide concession space.  Actual costs for this pre-design work were over $16,000 and Meyer Group requested an additional $5,000 for a total of $10,000.  Pre-authorization for this overrun was not received, nor was it submitted to ORB Management for review prior to payment.  The County Board authorized payment of $5,444.80 per the original authorization, subject to review by Attorney Tim Scannell.