Cass County Board: Growing cases mean growing staff in HHVS office

WALKER--Cass County Health, Human and Veterans Services' 89 employees saw 4,359 people at their Walker office in 2015 and 1,216 at the Backus office, according to their 2015 annual report.

WALKER-Cass County Health, Human and Veterans Services' 89 employees saw 4,359 people at their Walker office in 2015 and 1,216 at the Backus office, according to their 2015 annual report.

The county now also has three county eligibility workers working from the Leech Lake Tribal office in Cass Lake.

State changes to child protection laws in 2015 meant the county had to adapt to 93 new rules to ensure child safety when maltreatment is reported. This has meant hiring additional staff and more closely coordinating service of HHVS social workers with those of sheriff's deputies and the county attorney's office for initial report responses.

Half of the children taken from their birth home and placed in foster care will return home after support is provided for the child and/or family and within a year, according to the report.

When children cannot be reunited with their own family, social workers try to find a permanent home for children. This may be an adoption by their foster family, a relative or extended family or appointment of a guardian.


The county served seven families in 2015 to help them create a safer home for their children, so the children would not need to be placed outside the natural home at all.

Previously, financial support was significantly reduced when a family giving foster care adopted the child in their home. This meant many families could not afford to adopt.

In 2015, Cass started a new program called Northstar Care, which enables the county to offer Medical Assistance and a basic monthly payment, based on the child's age, to families adopting or taking permanent relative custody of a child age 6 and older in their home.

There has been no change in financial support for younger children so far.

Cass coordinates services for depressed or despondent people with the area-wide crisis line where people can call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to talk to a trained crisis response person. There is also a mobile crisis outreach team. To seek help or just talk, call 800-462-5525.

HHVS provides services for responding to maltreatment of vulnerable adults. Anyone who believes someone age 18 or older who has difficulty caring for themselves and has been mistreated in a hospital or residential facility or receives licensed home care or day services in their own home can report that to a statewide adult abuse reporting center at 844-880-1574.

Cass County licenses and monitors services for developmentally disabled clients and for family and adult foster care and child daycare.

The county assists 109 developmentally disabled people who want to seek employment or stay connected with the community in other ways and helps find appropriate housing.


HHVS saw increased participation in MNsure during 2015. The county had 220 participants in 2013. That increased to 1,178 in 2014 and 2,122 in 2015.

Effective July 2015 group residential housing was made available for homeless people.

Cass collected $2,563,227.10 from non-custodial parents to pay support to their custodial parent or to the state for service provided for the child. There were 162 court hearings held to determine child support and another 138 support orders issued without hearings.

Women, Infant and Children nutrition education clinics for women with young children issued $511,000 in vouchers to use to purchase food at local grocery stores in 2015.

Public health nurses offered breast feeding support to new mothers whether or not they qualified for WIC. Child and teen checkups are offered to children enrolled in Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare at Walker and the family centers in Pine River, Remer and Pillager.

The nurses also make home visits to new mothers during pregnancy and through their child's second year.

They provide free or low cost immunizations to children age 18 and younger and low cost immunizations to adults. Cass offers foot care clinics for senior adults throughout the county.

In an effort to increase access to healthier food, the county has helped food shelves gain access to more fresh foods and made it possible to use EBT cards at some farmers' markets. The Green Scene Farmer's Market in Walker is one participant.


In cooperation with the sheriff's department, HHVS provides secure boxes at the sheriff's office, and law enforcement centers in Pine River, Lake Shore and Cass Lake where people can leave unused prescription and over-the-counter medications. No sharps are accepted.

Cass participates in the Statewide Health Improvement Program to improve access to healthier foods. A community garden is now available at Pillager through this program.

Cass distributed 28 child car seats in 2014 and 84 in 2015.

The county uses MnCHOICES, a state program, to screen people to help them select the most appropriate long-term care services for them, whether they seek to stay in their own home with help or to move to a facility.

Cass offers home care services. Their nurses made 1,603 skilled nursing visits in 2015, 125 physical therapy visits and 2,629 home health aide visits. They traveled 50,872 miles to see 119 clients.

Volunteer drivers made 1,151 trips to take seniors, veterans, Medical Assistance, probation and social services clients to medical appointments and to do shopping, banking and access legal and Social Security help in 2015.

About 40 volunteer drivers offered their time and the use of their cars. Their only pay is a mileage reimbursement at the current IRS mileage rate.

The largest users of that service were seniors and veterans.


Cass's two certified veteran service officers help provide veteran benefits and access to services for the county's estimated 3,355 vet population. This is about 12 percent of the county population.

Cass currently has about 1,523 veterans enrolled in the VA Health Care system, up 2.3 percent from 2014. Of those, 2 percent are World War II vets, 9 percent participated in the Korean War, 12 percent are Gulf War/War on Terror vets, 49 percent are Viet Nam vets and 28 percent served during peace time.

Veteran service officers schedule office hours in Cass Lake, Remer, Pillager and Walker in addition to the main office at Backus. They also make home visits.

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