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Cass County Board: Juvenile recidivism rate a concern in county

WALKER - Cass County Probation Director Jim Schneider called the recidivism rate for teenagers assigned to Northwest Minnesota Juvenile Center (NMJC) "a challenge needing to be addressed."...

WALKER - Cass County Probation Director Jim Schneider called the recidivism rate for teenagers assigned to Northwest Minnesota Juvenile Center (NMJC) "a challenge needing to be addressed."

He cited the 2014 annual report from NMJC showing 758 teen admissions, with 458 of those being re-admissions.

Michele Piprude, social services manager, reported on the county's screening team, a multi-department group who screens children needing placement outside their own home before entering placement. That screening has helped lower Cass's out of home placement costs since 2003.

Cass is one of eight counties operating the NMJC. It consists of a secure facility at Bemidji and several non-secure group homes in Bemidji and surrounding communities, including Cass Lake.

Teens may be assigned there when they have broken the law or when they pose a threat to themselves or others, but are not delinquent. In 2014, 523 of those assigned to the center had broken a law and were delinquent.

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Of those admitted, 446 were male and 312 were female. They ranged in age from 10 to 18 years old, with the highest numbers being ages 13 to 17.

Cass had 195 teens assigned to the center in 2014, 156 of whom were American Indian, 33 Caucasian, three Hispanic and three African American.

Member counties, in addition to Cass, include Beltrami, Hubbard, Pennington, Clearwater, Roseau, Kittson and Lake of the Woods. Non-member counties that placed children at NMJC in 2014 included Crow Wing, Itasca, Ottertail, Aitkin, Douglas, Marshall and St. Louis. Leech Lake and White Earth Indian Reservations also placed children there.

NMJC charged $173 per day to member counties for secure treatment services and $193 per day for non-member counties to place a teen in treatment. In 2015, those rates have increased to $183 and $208, respectively. There are about 25 facilities offering similar secure treatment services throughout the state. Their daily rates for 2015 range from a $140 low at Red Wing to a high for secure cottages at St. Cloud of $359 per day.

Crow Wing County's PORT Group Homes charges $169.80 a day in 2015 for secure treatment.

NMJC charged $179 a day for member counties and $199 secure and non-secure detention in 2014. Those rates increased to $189 and 214, respectively, in 2015. Comparable detention programs among about 24 statewide will charge from $139 per day at Red River Valley Juvenile Center in Crookston to $344 per day at Hennepin County Juvenile Center in Minneapolis.

NMJC charged from $147 to $167 for satellite home placements in 2014. Those rates increased to a $157 to $182 range in 2015.

Schneider said child placement rates have doubled since he became a probation officer 23 years ago.

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In addition to Schneider, Sheriff Tom Burch serves on the Northwest Minnesota Juvenile Center Board to represent Cass County.

Piprude reported the screening team evaluated 42 children referred by health and human services, 15 referred by probation department and two referred jointly in 2014. Of those, 40 teens were age 15 or younger and 19 were 16 or older. About half were girls and half boys. About half were white and half of another race.

The primary reason they were referred for screening was: 18 because of abuse, 15 because of behavior, 14 because of neglect, five because of mental health issues, and two each, because of truancy or termination of parental rights. A reason was not available for three cases.

Out-of-home child placements had been trending downward for several years, but later in 2014 the number of children in placement and the cost began to rise again. Both total costs and the county's share of cost ran 107 percent of budget in 2014.

The actual total was $1,785,249. Of that $1,508,506 was county cost.

Through February 2015, the cost continued to run higher than budgeted. With 22 percent of the budget spent after 16.67 percent of the year.

Total Health, human and veterans services expenditures so far this year are exactly at budget projections.

To keep pace with rising costs for early childhood health screenings and for child and teen checkups, the county board Tuesday authorized increasing rates charged for both screenings.

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Early childhood screening, usually offered for children between ages three and four to identify any learning or health concerns before they approach kindergarten, will rise from $397 to $413 for the 2015-16 school year.

Rates for child and teen checkups will rise from $300 to $337 for 2015-16.

Related Topics: CASS COUNTY BOARD
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