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human services

Legislative Democrats are again pushing for a “Human Services Stabilization Fund,” similar to the current Budget and K-12 stabilization funds.

That has been proposed before.

Those funds are “rainy day” funds, designed to be there if there is a funding shortfall in those programs.

North Dakota’s Human Service Department says its eight regional human service centers and four satellite clinics are open to provide on-site and community based behavioral health services, during a time of stress brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dan Cramer, the director of the South Central Human Services Center in Jamestown, said when the pandemic first started, a lot of services were switched to telehealth. But he said as things went on, they realized some people were really struggling, and those with the greatest amount of illness were struggling the most.

Human Service 'zones' in place, functioning

Feb 11, 2020

The executive director of the North Dakota Association of Counties believes a redesign of county social services is going very well.

As of the first of the year, 19 “human service zones” have been created. Four of those zones are single counties – Cass, Burleigh, Grand Forks and Ward – and the rest are collapsed into units of two to six counties.

"All the employees have transferred to the host county," said Association executive director Terry Traynor. He said while it's a good start, there is a long way to go before everything is completed.

Heating assistance funds available

Jan 10, 2020

North Dakota has $19 million available for heating assistance to low income households this winter.

It’s through the “LIHEAP” program.

North Dakota Department of Human Services economic assistance director Michele Gee said assistance is based on household income.

"In North Dakota, we look at incomes up to 60 percent of the state median income," Gee said. "For example, a household of three would qualify with income of $49,021 per year, and for a household of two, $39,600 per year."

Human Services reorganization proceeding

Sep 16, 2019

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 said there 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.