DHS director explains services to Montmorency commissioners

ATLANTA – The Montmorency County Board of Commissioners heard a presentation from John Keller, Department of Human Services director. Keller informed the board on the high levels of services the DHS provides in Montmorency County, and the different types of services available.

“We have been fairly busy in Montmorency County,” Keller said. “Any time there’s an allegation of child abuse or neglect we have to respond to those allegations by statute. So far this fiscal year in Montmorency County … we have had 68 child abuse and neglect complaints assigned to us to investigate. Out of those 68 complaints thus far this fiscal year, 22 of those complaints were substantiated. That means we found evidence where child abuse or neglect had occured to Montmorency County children.”

Keller told the board of the process in which children in risky situations are removed from the home and placed either with a relative or in foster care. DHS also works with adult protective services and received 29 complaints this fiscal year of adult situations.

“We’re very active for a small community,” Keller said. “We have a number of programs in this county. We’ve been very busy.”

DHS offers payment programs and assistance programs to help families receive cash or food assistance and help those able to work into a program and set them up for future success.

“Our biggest financial assistance program is the food assistance program,” Keller said. “We have quite a number of recipients in that program; 973 cases representing 1,764 recipients, for a total of $209,015. That’s for one month alone.”

Chair Gene Thornton said the food assistance numbers represent around 20 percent of the county.

Keller said there also are disability programs, child development and day care programs and state emergency relief available for people who are in danger of getting their electric or heat turned off.

“We also run a very active investigation of welfare fraud,” Keller said. “There is one person who is dedicated solely to finding fraud who takes time in each county.”

In other business:

bids will be collected for three old patrol cars with a minimum bid of $500.

the board agreed to purchase a Xerox copier for the register of deeds office including toner for $4,459.40.

the food bank will be placing orange barrels in a county-wide effort to collect food items.

Deb Neilsen and Tim Teeples of Valley United Insurance updated the board on the latest news and concerns with health insurance costs and benefits.

the board heard a request from Michelle Labar and Dave Farmer of Northeast Michigan Affordable Housing dealing with payment revisions within the system, and the board agreed to discuss the matter at the next finance meeting.

the Montmorency County Courthouse will be closed on Monday in observance of Labor Day.

the next regular board meeting will be Sept. 11 at 9 a.m.

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at ngrulke@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.