Douglas County to outsource sliding fee child care?
Douglas County's basic sliding fee child care program could affect 124 families and 190 children if the program is transferred to the West Central Community Action Partnership (CAP) agency in Elbow Lake.
Douglas County Social Services Director Mike Woods said if the program migrates, a local presence could be lost but it could also free up the need for one financial worker in his office.
Woods said a number of other counties, including Pope and Otter Tail, have made the switch.
Prior to changes in legislation this year, the state would reimburse counties for overspending to provide the child care service. That option no longer is available, leaving the county to offset the cost.
"We don't have a waiting list and we're still not even spending 90 percent of our budget this month," Woods explained at Tuesday's county board meeting. "I'd like to consider starting negotiations with West Central CAP."
The county receives $27,000 to administer the program. Running the program through CAP would cost approximately $40,000 per year, Woods said. Although the cost to run the child care program through CAP would be higher than the amount allocated to administer the program, the expectation would be a financial gain overall to the Douglas County social services department.
Commissioner Jim Stratton said including CAP would be adding another loop into the process for people who need the service. Stratton was also concerned there wouldn't be a local worker for residents to speak with face-to-face.
Woods said having a CAP representative in the county to assist participants could be part of negotiations. Douglas County commissioners agreed to allow Woods to explore options with CAP.
Crystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.