Driving County Roads

An on line journal sharing my views. The content reflects my background as a rural person employed in agriculture and as a retired elected official of local government.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Learning about Social Services

County departments cover the gamut from road building to burial of indigent citizens. The Nicollet County Social Services Department under the direction of Joan Tesdahl is the largest county department. It employs the most people and its budget is the largest. Because the whole area is "overwhelming"- what is a good way to get the word out about the many programs and why these programs are important?

That was the challenge as the steering committee for Connecting Nicollet County, the local leadership program, designed a session to allow the 22 participants to learn about county social services. Under the tutelage of Katie Rasmussen, University of Minnesota Extension Educator, the information was presented to members of the class(who were divided into groups of three) and then the groups shared what they had learned with the full class. It is a brief form of the "teacher the teacher" technique. Ms Rasmussen shared that studies have shown that people remember more of what they have been presented when this method is used.

Ms. Tesdahl divided her supervisors and staff into seven groups which included: Children's Services, Adult Mental Health Services, Financial Services and Fraud Investigation, Child Support, Accounting, Office Support, Foster Care licensing, Child Care licensing, Adoption Services. Supervisors and staff from the various programs met with the individual groups of class members and explained the programs. The seven groups then returned and shared important "take home information" with the whole group.

The following is a listing of some "take homes" or "aha" learnings.
  • I did not realize there are so many children needing help.
  • The family is the focus. "Protect the child, while fixing the family."
  • I was impressed with the coordination that Nicollet County has with many other counties.
  • I did not know there were so many people with so many needs.
  • There is just tons and tons of paperwork to access the programs.
  • I was impressed by the accountability.
  • It is really very hard to qualify for some of these programs. You basically cannot have hardly any income in order to qualify.
  • The whole area sounds like it would be easy, but there are really a lot of things to think about.
  • During this election year, we hear a lot about cutting welfare. It is not that simple.
  • There is so much CARE and RESPECT.
  • They are using technology to save on drive time.
  • The client comes first and the goal is recovery and self-sufficiency.
  • Detox is very expensive and Nicollet County must provide the service, even if the violator is just driving through on the way to training camp.

The Nicollet County social Services staff are to be congratulated and praised for the outstanding job in presenting information and enlightening 22 leadership participants. This day presented value and new understandings of the fabric of Nicollet County. end

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