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Cass County Board: Child placement costs down

BACKUS — Among the children who are placed outside their own homes for various reasons, mostly at county expense, are some who spend 30 or more days in placement.

Michele Piprude, social services supervisor, told the county board Tuesday that in the last year Cass County had 38 children in such longer placements. Of those, 31 were age 15 or younger and seven were 16 or older.

Cass County has a screening team — comprised of social services, probation, court-related and law enforcement personnel — that evaluates each case before and during placement for cost effectiveness and to study progress the child makes while in placement.

The largest number of children went into those placements because of behavioral issues. The second most common cause was from neglect. Truancy, mental health issues and abuse caused the fewest number of placements.

Since the county initiated a screening team a few years ago, the number of days and cost for placements has been reduced.

For children placed fewer than 30 days, primarily social services employees monitor their cases.

In other county board business Tuesday, Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Anderson reported 16,211 people voted in the 2012 election, or 79.5 percent of eligible voters. While the number was down from the 16,388 who voted in 2008, the percentage was up from 78.2 that year because there were fewer registered voters in the county this year.

Cass sent out 2,162 absentee ballots. Of those, 1,916 were returned and accepted, 130 were rejected and 116 not returned by election day. The 6 percent rejection rate compared with a 4.5 percent rejection rate in 2008, Anderson reported.

She said the county conducted a post-election review, which involves a random recount of a few precincts. There was only one change from the review on a write-in vote, so Anderson believes the voting system works very well here.

Cass County’s interest earned on investments is running about $200,000 behind 2011 levels so far this year due to lower interest rates being available, though the figures are above what the county conservatively predicted at the beginning of 2012.

Longville Ambulance Service reported through the third quarter this year, revenues ran slightly below budget projections due to a slight decrease in volumes and reimbursement rates. Expenses were up in large part due to three employees being on medical leaves following surgery.

Kevin Lee, who supervises the service for North Memorial Ambulance, said this puts the service at about 12 percent profit so far this year, compared with a projected 15 percent.

The service has transported 169 patients so far this year, down two calls from 2011, he said.