human services | Prairie Public Broadcasting

human services

Human Services reorganization proceeding

12 hours ago

Work continues on the concept of “human service zones.”

Under it, counties agree to work together to share services and administration.

State human services director Chris Jones saidthere are 19 zones identified.

"Right now, it's getting into the minor details that sometimes you trip over," Jones said. "But I feel really good about the work we've done with the Association of Counties and with the individual counties themselves to start the collaboration."

The North Dakota Department of Human Services will be working with the Human Service Research Institute to identify the state’s capacity to meet psychiatric in-patient needs across the state, as well as the needs in other areas of behavioral health.

State human services director Chris Jones said the study came from action in the 2019 Legislature.

"The Governor had budgeted for a new state hospital," Jones said. "And the legislature looked at how we create, on the treatment side, access to in-patient services across the state."

North Dakota Human Service Zones

Jun 24, 2019

The North Dakota legislature broke up North Dakota into 19 multi-county “human service zones” as an extension of the previous state legislative Senate Bill 2206 approved by lawmakers in 2017, to provide stronger services to the entire state. Chip Ammerman, Director of Cass County Social Services, says the basis for the legislation is strong.

Donnell Presky Huschka

Prairie Public's Dave Thompson interviews State Human Services executive director Chris Jones and North Dakota Association of Counties executive director Terry Traynor about "human service zones." The first voice you hear is Traynor's.

Human Service zones focus of a meeting in Bismarck

Jun 13, 2019
Donnell Presky Huschka / ND Association of Counties

Representatives from all 53 counties met in Bismarck this week to talk about forming “human service zones.”

The 2019 Legislature passed a bill to allow for the creation of up to 19 such zones.

"It's not a state take-over of county social services," said North Dakota Department of Human Services executive director Chris Jones. "It's how do we best deliver social services to individuals across the state."

Jones said in an interview it's about removing boundaries, and assuring things are done in a more efficient manner.

A State Senator calls it an “evolution in delivery of human services.”

Sen. Kathy Hogan (D-Fargo) is talking about the creation of human service “zones.” It’s part of a reinvention led by the state Human Services Department.

Hogan said the “zone” idea actually was floated in the 1970s, but it’s been over the last few years that there has been a serious move in that direction.

The current Senate bill calls for the creation of 16 to 19 “zones” across the state.

A bill has been introduced in the state Senate to create a rainy day fund for the state health and human services departments.

The bill would take a portion of the oil extraction tax and put it in a fund, to be used if there is a budget allotment. It’s similar to the budget and K-12 stabilization funds.

It has bi-partisan support. The chairmen of the House and Senate Human Services Committees -- Rep. Robin Weisz (R-Hurdsfield) and Sen. Judy Lee (R-West Fargo) are co-sponsors.

ND Association of Counties

North Dakota counties are concerned about proposals pending to restructure how human services are delivered.

The reorganization is being spearheaded by the state Department of Human Services, and is before a Legislative interim committee.

One of the proposals is to create "zones" for social services.

Social service 'zones' proposed

Sep 24, 2018

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.

Donnell Preskey / ND Association of Counties

The North Dakota Department of Human Services is working on a “social services redesign project.”

As part of that effort, the Department held a workshop in Bismarck on “Increasing Efficiency and Effectiveness in State Government.” (5/1/18)

The workshop featured Utah Office of Management and Budget Executive Director Kristen Cox.

"Significant improvement is possible," Cox said in an interview with Prairie Public. "Less is more. And tools exist to achieve the ambitions targets that they set."