Social service 'zones' proposed

Sep 24, 2018

Human Services director Chris Jones.

As part of a reorganization of social services in North Dakota, the Department of Human Services is proposing grouping county social services into “zones.”

"Over the last few years, there have been a number of counties that have formed multi-county social service districts," said Department of Human Services director Chris Jones. "We're looking at that concept to group some other counties together."

Jones said not only are there administrative efficiencies, it could better serve North Dakotans.

"We will be able to move dollars across borders," Jones said.

The draft plan calls for 19 “zones” across the state.

"It's meant to say, just because you're in a zone, it doesn't mean you can't cross those boundaries," Jones said. "They're gray lines. We want to be able to serve anybody based on where they live, regardless of where the resources are."

The Department has been working on reorganization. Jones said some ideas may need Legislative approval, but others won’t. He said the goal is to improve social service delivery to create better outcomes.

"How do we better serve children and families?" Jones said. "How do we provide behavioral health services in the home before a child is put into foster care? How do we prevent additional child abuse and neglect reports?"

Jones said it's making the right changes, so there is less worry about regulations, and more concern about delivering services.

"That's really what we are tasked to do," Jones said.