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Human Services reorganization creates new position: Pierce County Board

At the Sept. 26 Pierce County Board meeting, county supervisors unanimously approved the Human Services reorganization plan for the 2018 budget, including the creation of a full-time foster care coordinator—social worker position.

Human Services Director Ron Schmidt said the reorganization that's occurring is a "consolidation effort" to help Child Protective Services.

"If you're unaware, the county and the western side of the state is under pressure of methamphetamine use, misuse, abuse, and addiction," Schmidt said. "We have about 90 percent of our out-of-home children cases are related to parents who have been referred to Child Protective Services because of methamphetamine."

Schmidt said the cases lead to difficult social problems for parents who could be facing unemployment more often than not.

Schmidt said due to their complicated and sensitive nature, these cases can last anywhere between 15 to 22 months and the Human Services Department would benefit from moving some staff and resources within the department to better help Child Protective Services.

According to the board meeting packet, the department has considered Children Youth and Family (CYF) reorganization several times over the past few years. The complete restructure of the CYF program would eliminate 1.0 FTE Administrative Assistant recently vacated; use those resources and existing Foster Care Social Worker 0.4 FTE resources to add 1.0 FTE Foster Care Coordinator Social Worker; make structural program changes from two units with two managers— CPS and Juvenile Justice—to one CYF unit and one manager.

Schmidt said the department has vacated a full-time administrative assistant position already and some resources in foster care to create the full-time foster care social worker position.

Another addition would be a Child Protective Services ongoing position while also eliminating a temporary position.

Internally, Schmidt said they'll move a worker to the Child Protective Services department as well, to gain about 1.5 FTE's in the investigative unit that responds to child abuse and neglect specifically.

"It is a plan that meets that demand that I was talking about...I think it's a way to get at the medium term demand due to the caseload," Schmidt said.

Pierce County Administrative Coordinator Jo Ann Miller said the move will be an increase of about $3,722 to the budget, about $1,800 more than originally estimated.

Other business

• The Pierce County Board held a discussion about an increase in compensation for citizens who are a part of the jury process. The rules were suspended and the reading was waived, with all approving the motion except for Supervisor Ben Plunkett of River Falls. The proposed change would increase wages from $16 plus travel expenses per day to $35 plus travel expenses per day.

• The board unanimously approved a resolution that would allow Pierce County Treasurer Kathryn Fuchs to act on behalf of Pierce County as part of her job duties. Fuchs was elected as Pierce County Treasurer in January.

• The board unanimously approved at cut-off time of 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays, for receipt and recording of paper/electronic documents at the Register of Deeds office. This gives the office time to look over documents presented in either paper or electronic form, then accept or reject, receipt and record those documents that meet recording criteria.

• The board unanimously approved the re-appointment of Barry Barringer, of Trenton Township, to the Board of Adjustment for the term of April 2017 to March 2020.

Matthew Lambert

Matthew Lambert joined the Pierce County Herald and River Falls Journal in December 2016 covering government, school board, and writing features about the community. He is a graduate of Winona State University with a Bachelor's degree in Journalism.