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home : cass county news : cass county news
December 13, 2018

3/23/2018 2:21:00 PM
Cass Board: Substance abuse 'most significant factor' in child protection
Cass County Correspondent

BACKUS-Allegations of child maltreatment and children in need of protection rose last year, but confirmed maltreatment is about steady, said Michelle Piprude, Health, Human and Veterans Services director, at the Cass County Board meeting.

She presented her HHVS annual report to the commissioners.

Piprude told the board chronic and severe use of alcohol or controlled substances by a parent or person responsible for care of a child continues to be the most significant factor leading to children being placed in foster homes.

Child protection case intakes rose from steadily from 375 in 2014 to 655 cases in 2017.

Of the maltreatment reports received in 2017, 662 were for neglect, 245 were for physical abuse, 106 were for sexual abuse, 53 were for threatened injury and 57 were for mental injury.

There were no medical neglect cases.

To prevent maltreatment, Cass HHVS offers a voluntary parent outreach support program to families at risk from poverty, domestic violence, alcohol or drug problems, mental health concerns or a history of child protection involvement or homelessness.

Cass County evaluated 201 adults for drug and alcohol dependency and referred them to services. Piprude said the annual 10-person decline in the number of evaluations the last three years could be due to increased health care access in Minnesota.

The number of people referred for short-term detoxification declined from 149 in 2015 to 104 in 2016 and to 97 in 2017.

Take It to the Box, Cass County's collection effort to take medications off the street, collected 441.21 pounds of non-narcotic and 10.52 pounds of narcotic medications in 2017.

Anyone can bring unused or outdated medications (no sharps) to the collection box at law enforcement centers in Lake Shore, Pine River, Walker (sheriff's office) or Cass Lake during normal business hours.

Cass uses a regional mental health initiative grant for qualifying clients to help adults obtain mental health services.

School-linked services help connect children with mental health services. Cass has a grant to offer respite to families of children with severe emotional disturbances.

The county receives referrals for vulnerable adult maltreatment from the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center. Suspected abuse, neglect, self-neglect or financial exploitation can be reported through MAARC.

There were 213 adult protective services intakes in 2017, up from 172 in 2016, but only slightly above the 213 in 2015.

Piprude said Cass has had an increase in the number of guardianships filed with the court in recent years.

Cass County licenses homes in the county to provide care services.

In 2017, they issued 45 licenses to child care providers (two new), 38 relative child foster care homes (12 new), 12 non-relative child foster care (one new), six adult family care providers and 43 adult corporate care providers.

Adult family care is where a family takes a disabled adult into their home like a child foster care parent would a child. Adult corporate care is where a group home takes more than one disabled adult into a group home setting like child foster homes.

In either case, the family or group home assists the disabled adult with their daily care needs.

Changes made under a federal law taking effect this year will require licensed centers and family child care providers to be subject to unannounced inspections, have emergency preparedness plans, undergo enhanced background checks and take at least 16 hours of annual health and safety training.

The county attempts first to find a relative to provide foster care before using non-relative foster care homes.

Cass County has 45.2 percent of its population above normal retirement age. Cass HHVS evaluated service needs under the MM Choice assessment program for 400 older people in 2017.

Thirty-five to 40 volunteer drivers provide rides to medical services for residents under the senior transportation program. Those drivers receive mileage reimbursements, because they use their own cars.

Cass' home care service provided 1,142 home health aide visits, 254 physical therapy visits and 1,576 skilled nursing visits to 112 people in their own homes in 2017. Clients are seniors and disabled people.

County health nurses provided 299 clients with 635 visits during clinics and home visits.

Jeff Woodford, Cass veterans service officer, presented the report on his HHVS division. Veterans comprise about 11 percent of Cass's population. Veteran spouses double that number of potential beneficiaries.

He spoke at the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley School Veterans Day Program and the American Legion Post 134 veterans dinner in 2017.

HHVS provided educational materials during the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard no-cost medical, dental, optometry and pharmacy service clinic at Cass Lake-Bena School July 9 to 22, where 777 patients were seen.

A special grant enabled veterans services to restore two grave markers for two vets, which had deteriorated over time. Woodford said he hopes to obtain another grant to continue that program.

The agency has active files on about two-thirds of the veterans believed to be living in the county, about double the number that used to be on file. Woodford said technology has made it much more efficient to process claims for vets.

The number of claims processed in 2017 was down 9.5 percent from 2016, but still up 35 percent from 2015, he said.

About 32 percent of Cass County veterans have a service-connected disability rating and average $13,819 annual federal benefits. Another 2 percent receive a non-service disability pension based on income. Non-service beneficiaries must have served during a war to qualify.

Cass veterans and their families received $53,897 under Minnesota's Soldier Assistance program for one-time payments of up to $5,000 for shelter, utilities, dental, optical or personal needs. That is the 14th highest amount paid through a county in 2017 while Cass has the 24th highest population in the state.

The veterans transportation program for volunteers to drive vets to medical services logged 60,764 miles in 2017, up from 54,754 miles in 2016.

Piprude reported average monthly use of the following benefit programs: 64 child care assistance, 153 general assistance, one emergency general assistance, six emergency assistance, 1,063 Minnesota Family Improvement Plan, 77 diversionary work program, 2,333 medical assistance, 3,119 supplemental nutrition assistance program and 108 group residential housing.

People's use of MNSure for their medical insurance has increased from 2,122 in 2015 to 3,207 in 2017.

The Women, Infants and Children program to offer counseling, nutritional and breastfeeding education and food packages to new mothers served 116 women, 115 infants and 337 young children in 2017. Of those mothers, 29 were breastfeeding and 86 used baby formula.

Four public health nurses have advanced breastfeeding training.

About 10 first-time parent families received ongoing public health home visits to help them attach to their babies and learn normal development tracks for their infants.

There were 10 adoptions finalized in Cass in 2017. Three of those were with relatives. Seven were with families with whom they already had a significant relationship.

Under the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership, Cass uses 18 partner sites in the community to improve access to healthy foods, opportunities for physical activity and to be in tobacco-free environments.

The county provided 728 vaccines free or at low cost to people in 2017. Of those 477 were flu vaccines.

Blue Plus health plan distributes car seats through Cass public health. In 2017, 95 seats were provided to families with education on how to correctly install the seats and children in them. That is up from 58 seats the prior year.

Cass County collected $2,345,620.18 in child support payments for the care of 1,866 children in 1,471 open cases. The money is collected by court order from non-custodial parents of the children and paid back to custodial parents or to the state for recovery of cash benefits and public assistance.

Tom Burke was named to fill a newly activated deputy director position in 2017. That position had been vacant for several years.

Second publication rights after Brainerd Dispatch.

Bill Hansen Realty

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