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Beltrami County Board: Pilot project would involve families on public assistance

In one of the first transitions for Beltrami County to an outcome-based delivery of services, a pilot project will involve families on public assistance.

Beltrami County Health and Human Services Department staff will present the proposal to commissioners during their 3 p.m. work session Tuesday at the County Administration Building.

John Pugleasa, HHS Economic Assistance Division director, will present "a project overview of this newly designed outcome-based delivery model of services to MFIP (Minnesota Family Investment Program) participants in Beltrami County," a board memo states.

The change would be among the first in Beltrami County government services to adhere to the county's new Strategy-Aligned Management model which attempts to deliver services based on outcomes, not on number of clients served in a particular program.

"Its overall impact is meant to address systemic change in how county services are provided to MFIP participants in Beltrami County are trained for and seek employment," it said.

The pilot project would provide a change "in perspective by those who serve and are served as well as cover consulting, planning, delivery and evaluation of the program," the memo states.

MFIP was formally known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and before that, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, and provides cash assistance to low-income families with dependent children.

The current program is funded through federal block grants to the state, and has a goal of having recipients seek and secure work. There is a 60-month lifetime limit for the public benefits.

"Beltrami County has long been ranked as one of the poorest counties in the state, and is in one of the poorest regions in the state," the proposal states. "... society has long desired to reduce or even eliminate poverty. Beltrami County's new commitment to Strategy-Aligned Management has caused Beltrami County Health and Human Services to rethink our approach to addressing the needs of those in poverty."

Each client the county serves, regardless of their situation, "possess within themselves all they need to make meaningful and lasting changes for themselves," states the proposal. "Our job then is to enable such changes rather than maintain what has become in many cases an adversarial relationship between those who serve and those who are served."

The proposal calls for a three to five year pilot project "that we believe will change many of our assumptions about poverty and ultimately move beyond getting people off welfare to actually realizing our goal of reducing poverty."

The specific proposal calls for contracting with:

-- NorthWay Group Inc. for the pilot program to establish outcome-based services delivery program for MFIP clients, having available $94,400 in MFIP Consolidated Fund monies allocated to the county.

-- Joe Bailey and Associates, employee training titled, "The art of fearless leadership: Seeing the Possibilities of leading from calm, common sense and wisdom," at $30,000.

-- The Idea Circle, contract for up to $10,000 to develop an evaluation process for the outcome-based service delivery program for MFIP.

The proposal calls for working with two groups of 10 to 12 MFIP recipients with common situations, which would be set up yet this year.

"NorthWay Group will work with MFIP participants to assist them in preparing for the workforce by adapting and delivering the Florida Works curriculum that supports progress in attaining the skills needed to obtain the National Work Readiness Credential," NorthWay's proposal states.

Adult Basic Education will be enlisted for math and reading help, and peer coaches will be trained "so that participants will use their new skills to hold each other accountable for their commitments each week."

NorthWay will work with each participant "in identifying their personal strengths, defining their values, building confidence, seeing themselves as capable, and applying their unique abilities to their work and lives."