Western Prairie Social Services Temporary Joint Powers

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why would Pope and Grant counties want to do this?

  • Retain a seasoned management team and avoid the disruption a change in management team would create by the ending or disruption of our long-standing partnership.  
  • Manage staff vacancies, absences, and the training of the new staff.  Having a larger base of staff allows us to more easily train and support our staff.  That means the people we serve are better served, with more consistency and continuity.   We’ve seen that be successful with social services, we would have the opportunity to do the same thing in all areas of our agency.
  • Program Specialization of staff will improve services and staff satisfaction.  Our belief is it will allow us to offer a wider array of services.
  • More efficient Case Load management – we can back-up each other with skilled, trained staff that are specific to the program.
  • Retention & recruiting of staff by providing more internal opportunities, which also increases morale and reduces training time and costs.  It generally takes 6-12 months to train any of our positions. Turnover is costly in terms of training and continuity of service.
  • Support from both Grant and Pope county professionals with a variety of experience provides us with different perspectives.  This will benefit staff and the people we serve.
  • As counties see more cost shifts and potential cuts we will be better positioned to absorb those without a direct impact in services to people in our communities.  
  • We are better positioned to meet performance measures. We have many State and Federal performance measures that are tied to funding and program requirements.  More specialization and resources allow us to meet these and not see a disruption or impact to the people that we serve.
  • Improve employee’s experience

-Allows more flexibility for employees to learn new programs

-Peer support in program areas

-More access and time for writing grants means more options and opportunities

-Improved retention ie: lead workers, more supervisory opportunities, more chance of internal shift or promotion

-Create and maintain highly trained staff who know their specific program well

  • Access to greater local services provides a better experience for those we serve.   Some examples of things we are or have done together:
    • CIBS
    • Safe Families
    • Support group for foster parents
    • Specialized Substance Use Disorder case coordination
    • Adoption case management
    • The Big Idea project: grant for Pope and Grant and older kids in placement
    • The pilot project for CW that we created to rate our cases and assign cases in CP based on an intensity rating to even out the caseloads and ensure all families get their needs met
    • Specialized program supervision
    • Joint multi-disciplinary screening teams for child and adult protection

Will anything look different for the consumer?

  • Neither office will close, both will still have a full array of staff in them. Hours may change slightly, but services offered at each site will not.
  • The public will be able to utilize both offices regardless of county of residence.  
  • We will continue to be involved with all schools, law enforcement, local child and youth collaboratives, and local programs.

Will our worker change:

  • Continuity of services are our first priority. The possibility of a worker changing has always existed due to turnover and staff assignment.  We will ensure that our staff are trained and able to help the people who live in our communities.

What will be the cost?

  • There are start-up costs, they will be one-time costs for 2021 that will not impact county levies.
  • We expect that any increases in cost will be offset by savings from joint procedures
  • It is anticipated there will be some cost efficiencies in program areas.
  • Other merged entities have shown a slower rate of growth in the need for additional employees as program requirements change. Thus, the tax levy growth has been less than if they had remained a single agency.

Timeline: 

January 1, 2022 is our projected start date.  We have a temporary joint powers board with all 10 current county commissioners.   We are working on a permanent joint powers’ agreement, which will also include all 10 county commissioners serving on it.  We want local oversight and transparency.