Wright Social Services to Stay with Humboldt as Regionalization Decisions Loom

At their July 14 meeting, the Wright County Supervisors voted to continue filing joint social service cost reports with Humboldt County for the time being. The decision prefigures a larger one to be made by September: whether or not to regionalize social service case management will be handled by a Wright County employee or regionalized.

At their July 7 meeting, Bob Lincoln, CEO of County Social Services (CSS), expressed reservations about the split.  At the July 14 meeting, he successfully convinced the Wright County Supervisors to reverse their decision and temporarily remain with Humboldt. CSS is a consortium that helps provide services used by citizens with long term medical needs in Wright and 21 other counties in northeastern Iowa.

In the current system, local case management specialists serve their clients by coordinating services available through the CSS network. Under the proposal urged by Lincoln, the point-person position for distribution of these services would be regionalized into the network, with fewer agents covering larger areas. Lincoln argued that this would keep services more closely integrated and more cost effective, while the Supervisors expressed reservations that it would keep managers further from their clients.

“Come on as you are and we’ll figure this out together,” Lincoln described as the attitude of the program. “We’re working toward a shared mission. I don’t know why our agendas would diverge.”

“My concern is that 22 counties is awfully big,” said Supervisor Karl Helgevold. “With taking targeted case management [regional], I want to make sure, is it too big? And if you go into a region, are the clients being served as well?”

Read more about the decision, its precedents, what potential regionalization may mean for County Social Services, and how local employees’ jobs hang in the balance in the July 17 issue of the Monitor.