Bismarck, ND -The way you use social services could be changing soon.
A couple years ago, we saw some changes to the way the state and counties funded social services. This biennium, the changes could continue.
“The state funding of county social services was a good bridge step,” DHS Executive Director Chris Jones said.
The state and counties are running pilot programs right now to figure out the best way to deliver services to everyone.
“Currently, clients in a county don’t have the same ability to cross county lines to get services. We’re trying to create a statewide approach without limiting access points,” Jones said.
Part of that vision is through what they call zones. Right now you go to your county for service. But, In the governor’s budget proposal this week, the plan would be to create 19 zones across the state. Some of those would serve multiple counties.
“Being able to share and distribute resources appropriately based on what is needed,” Jones said.
But there is some concern the zone approach might inadvertently neglect some of the smaller towns.
“Some of the communities that may only have 300 people, we have to remember, we still have to provide services to them as well,” Burleigh County Social Services Director Kim Osadchuk said.
She said the most important thing is they remember the main purpose of their work.
“It’s bringing state people and county people together and really tearing down barriers of what is preventing us from doing our work and getting the client the services they need,” Osadchuk said.
Last biennium, social services budget was about $160 million statewide. The request this time is for a little more than $180 million. Jones said the extra money will help with employee salaries and benefits and investing more in child behavior health services.