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Cass foster homes must now be smoke-free

WALKER — Cass County commissioners on Tuesday approved after lengthy discussion a policy to prohibit the use of any lighted or heated tobacco product, including e-cigarettes, in indoor areas where child care or foster care services are provided under license.

This would include foster care homes, child day care services and relatives such as grandparents caring for children under foster care grants.

The prohibition will be 24 hours a day. It includes homes and vehicles of providers.

The Cass County Health, Human and Veterans (HHVS) Services Advisory Committee recommended the board take the action to make providers homes smoke-free.

Commissioner Jeff Peterson suggested this might make more difficult the county’s already difficult effort to find enough foster homes for children.

Commissioner Neal Gaalswyk was the only commissioner, however, to vote against approving the measure.

Current providers will be notified of the policy change. If a provider is found to violate the prohibition and refuses to comply after three violations, the policy states it “may result in revocation of foster care or child care license.”

The effective date of the policy will be July 1, 2014.

Michele Piprude, human services manager, reported to the board the state will now audit each county’s performance on providing human services. Any county not achieving a 90 percent rating will be required to create a corrective action plan, she said.

This analysis covers services for children, adults and for income support.

Lori Muller, team leader, obtained board approved to spend up to $4,700 to train up to 40 social workers, nurses, law enforcement and the community members in mental health first aid certification training.

The training offered by the University of Minnesota Duluth is an 8-hour interactive session on depression, anxiety/trauma, psychosis and psychotic disorders, eating disorders, substance use disorders and self-injury.

The five-step program shows how to assess for risk of suicide or harm, listen non-judgmentally, give reassurance and information, encourage appropriate professional help and to encourage self-help and other support strategies.

The board approved a policy for health, human and veterans services department to employ paid interns.

Any intern completing the program with at least a “C” grade, who receives and provides a certified transcript for a qualifying degree from an educational institution and who obtains Minnesota Merit System Certification may then be considered by the department for hiring as a temporary staff employee after their internship concludes.

They will be exempt from licensure requirements during their internship.

HHVS expended 29.2 percent of the 2014 budget in the first third of the year. Out of home child placements ran 25 percent of budget in the same time period.

The county board authorized HHVS to write off $3,255 in money five people owed for detoxification services, because the people have died since 2007 to 2009 when they received the services.