Friday, July 29, 2011

County Seeks Help With Unfunded State Mandate

Thursday, July 28, 2011 7:01 am

by Peter Bodley
Managing Editor

Anoka County is hoping a federal grant will help pay the cost of an unfunded state mandate.

The Anoka County Board has authorized the submission of a federal grant application in an amount of $500,000 to improve service delivery in the child welfare system.

The grant, if successful, would be for five years, $100,000 each year, from Oct. 1, 2011 through Sept. 30, 2016.

In 2010 the Minnesota Legislature extended the time that foster children could remain in the system from 18 to 21 years old.

The legislative action also allowed foster children who left the system at 18 to return to foster care until they were 21 if they were unable to make it on their own.

According to Cindy Cesare, county manager for family and child services, the new law went into effect July 1, 2010, but the Legislature did not authorize any money to pay for it, leaving it up to the counties to fund.

Before the new law went into effect, Anoka County on occasion would continue foster care for teens until they reached the age of 19, Cesare said.

While the teens are in foster care, they are offered services paid for by the county to get them ready to live independently.

This includes monthly visits by a social worker, therapy where needed and teaching the teens independent living skills, Cesare said.

If approved, the federal grant would enable the county to enhance those services, according to Cesare.

A portion of the grant would go to the Emma B. Howe YMCA, Coon Rapids, for its youth transition services program, Cesare said.

“The money would allow YMCA to work with more youth through its transitional services,” she said.

If the federal money is received, the county human services division would also partner with the Anoka County Job Training Center to provide job training and counseling for 18- to 21-year-olds, as well as helping them in job searches, Cesare said.

Cesare anticipates hearing the fate of the county’s grant application later this summer, she said.

According to Bill Pinsonnault, county social services and mental health director, the grant money would enable the county to work with these young adults so that they can be successful living independently and don’t have to come back into the system.

In tandem with the grant application authorization, the county board also approved an amendment to the contract it has with the Emma B. Howe YMCA to increase the amount from $45,000 to $47,000 for youth transition services, effective May 1 through April 30, 2012.


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