A pair of decisions by the Yellow Medicine County Board increased the Family Service Budget by approximately $105,000 on Tuesday.
In a unanimous vote, commissioners first approved a budgetary ammendment allotting $85,000 to cover unexpected foster care expenses, before approving the hire of a temporary social worker for $20,000.
Foster care cost for children removed from unfit homes is a notoriously variable expense. In recent years, these expenditures have been reduced through Circle Sentencing and other programs, but 2012 has seen a spike.
“Every year it varies, and you can’t point a finger at any one thing that is resulting in children being removed from homes. If there’s a culprit more common than others, I would say its chemical use,” said Yellow Medicine County Family Service Director Peggy Heglund.
Providing additional perspective, Heglund pointed out that of the 208 children referred to the YMC?Family Service Department in 2012 only 13 are in foster care with six stemming from just two families. She also noted that the county strives to utilize the least expensive foster care options while still meeting children’s needs.
In a 3-1 vote held later in the meeting, commissioners approved the request by Heglund to hire a temporary social worker to fill in over a six month period. According to Heglund, two social workers from the same department will be going on back to back pregnancy leave creating situation in which the resulting work load would be too much for the remaining three workers to bear.
The hourly rate at which the part-time position will be hired for is 20.03 per hour, totalling $19,530 over the six months. Desiring that the work load of the social workers be spread out while they are on leave rather than hiring a replacement, board member Louis Sherlin was the lone dissenting vote.
In other news, at the recommendation of YMC Sheriff Bill Flaten, YMC Board members passed a resolution entering the county into a regional public safety board alongside Redwood, Nobles, Murray, Pipestone and Lyon County.
The joint board agreement will see the county share equipment with Murray and Lyon that is used to log sheriff‘s department communications.
Had the county purchased its own logging equipment, it was estimated that it would have cost $150,000. With the creation of the joint board and ancillary grant funds, the cost is reduced to $9,072 with a $4,000 annual software upgrade expense.