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Cass County Board: County parts ways with child care program administration company

WALKER--Using a contractor to administer Cass County's child care assistance program failed to reach more families, so the county board voted against extending its contract with Lakes and Prairie.

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WALKER-Using a contractor to administer Cass County's child care assistance program failed to reach more families, so the county board voted against extending its contract with Lakes and Prairie.

County officials hoped Lakes and Prairie would bring more families into the program to offer child care assistance on a sliding fee schedule to help them pay for day care for preschoolers.

Instead, fewer families are using the daycare assistance, Health, Human and Veterans Services Director Michelle Piprude told the county board Tuesday, Oct. 2. This means, Cass qualifies for less grant money to help families in the future.

Cass qualified for $448,823 in child care assistance in 2016. After Lakes and Prairie was hired in 2017, the allocation dropped to $299,687 for 2017, $285,425 in 2018 and will be $271,799 for 2019.

Piprude said Lakes and Prairie charged the county $42,813 this year, raising their administrative fee from 12.5 percent to 15 percent.

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When people use child care assistance, Piprude said, it means they are employed or are being educated to qualify them to be employable. It means they no longer will need family support money or food benefits.

The county board Tuesday approved filling a vacant county eligibility worker position to now provide outreach to parents and administer the child care assistance program.

Piprude said the $42,813 the county was paying Lakes and Prairie will cover the base salary for this worker. This worker will be able to do other county program intake work to offset overtime paid to other eligibility workers, covering the position's benefit costs.

While more people are using preschool programs offered by schools and some seasonal workers do not need child care in winter months, Piprude said she believes there are still more eligible people who need but are not getting child care assistance.

In other business Tuesday, the county board:

Heard from Chief Financial Officer Sandra Norikane, who informed the county board Tuesday as a part of her report on their quarter budget adjustments that 13 employees have retired or left county service so far this year, costing the county $213,400 in severance payments.

Approved a contract to receive Minnesota Department of Health grant money to contact pregnant women and those who have given birth in the last two years and have tested positive for Hepatitis B. This is to ensure their babies, household members and sexual partners or needle-sharing contacts get tested for and immunized against Hepatitis B. Post vaccination tests also will be available.

Approved a land reclassification for 5.4 acres in Fairview Township from Shoreland Residential to Water Oriented Commercial for The Quarterdeck.

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Referred to the planning commission requests from Babinski Foundation to reclassify 40 acres in Homebrook Township from Agriculture/Forest to Commercial 2 for apartments and storage units, for Darlene Olsen to reclassify 20.34 acres in Wilson Township from Agriculture/Forest to Rural Residential 20 and from Gary Lee Wolf to reclassify 39.05 acres in Blind Lake Township from Agriculture/Forest to Rural Residential 10.

Accepted a low bid from Holmvig Excavating at $18 per yard for 100 yards of taconite tailings to be applied to a forest trail in Crooked Lake Township. This trail will be used to access a timber sale.

Accepted a $200 donation from Minnesota Sheriff's Association for the Cass County Sheriff's Honor Guard.

Accepted a grant through Minnesota District Court not to exceed $100,500 for salary and benefits for a half-time coordinator and full-time probation officer for the county's Wellness Court. The grant runs from Oct. 1, 2018, through Sept. 30, 2019.

Approved replacing a 2014 check to Essentia Health, which the county had canceled in 2015, because it had not been cashed. Essential signed an affidavit of lost check.

Related Topics: ESSENTIA HEALTH
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