BEMIDJI -- The First Steps to Healthy Babies program will continue to make an impact in Beltrami County, thanks to a grant to keep it running the next three years, officials said this week.
On Tuesday, the Beltrami County Board of Commissioners learned the program was successful in landing a grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Led by the County Health and Human Services Department and Sanford Health, First Steps is designed to help mothers who are using or who have used chemicals during their pregnancy.
The program was created in response to the local, state and national opioid crisis, where mothers were giving birth to babies suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome, in which an infant can experience withdrawal symptoms. First Steps assists mothers to have a safe healthy pregnancy through outreach, support, treatment and in-home postnatal care.
"The tone was very positive," said County Administrator Kay Mack in describing Tuesday's presentation to the board. "Our grant had run out, but now we've received new grant money with about $100,000 per year. The board was happy with the program."
The recent grant also will allow First Steps to now support mothers until their children are age 5; where the previous grant only covered the child's first year.
In other county news, there will be a public hearing at 5 p.m. Tuesday Nov. 5, regarding a new solid waste management ordinance, which will combine the current two rules into one.
Along with merging the county's ordinance for solid waste management and service charges, the new document also has more teeth when it comes to enforcement.
"I think one of the more significant changes is that we're writing in the ability to hold people accountable if they don't respect the rules at our various sites," Mack said. "We worked with the sheriff and county attorney offices to make sure we could follow through and fine people."
The full proposed ordinance is available at the county's website, www.co.beltrami.mn.us.