Clay County staffing shortages continue 

county commissioners

Karen Newman 

“I cannot believe that we are seeing you here again,” joked Clay County Commission Chair Kevin Campbell as Justin Roberts, Correctional Facility Administrator, appeared before the commission at their October 5 meeting.

 Roberts responded ruefully, “I wish it wasn’t true.”  He went on to report that resignations within the department make it necessary to request to fill two full-time correctional officer positions as soon as possible.  Roberts said, “Both positions are within our budget.  They are part of our DOC (Department of Corrections) staffing plan. They would probably be a cost-savings to the county because both individuals have been here for about three years.”

Commissioner Jenny Mongeau reported that she attended a Personnel Issues Committee (PIC) meeting where discussion included how the Correctional Facility’s staffing numbers are affecting how many people can be housed in the center which leads to increased inmate transportation costs. Roberts explained that inmates have been housed in other counties recently.  He reported, “Currently, we have twelve individuals housed in a different county. It’s being done in order to meet our DOC staffing plan. We have to meet certain staffing to inmate ratio numbers.”

Roberts elaborated about Correctional Facility staffing, “As our population continues to increase, we’re having to send more and more individuals out. As of this morning (October 5) we are sitting at 116 inmates in the facility which is right on the border of having to ship out even more individuals to other counties. It is a struggle. We had to do this prior to opening the new facility. It wasn’t something we anticipated ever having to do again.”

Following approval of the motion to hire, Mongeau asked, “What are other counties seeing for workforce? Are other jails seeing shortages in staffing as well?” Roberts replied that a number of counties are having issues with high inmate populations and low staff numbers as well. Beltrami and Dakota Counties in Minnesota and Cass County in North Dakota are experiencing similar problems.

Roberts reminded the commissioners, “When you compare our community to other communities, the thing you have to remember is that we are competing with another jail that is much larger compared to us and competing for the same individuals to come work for us. We have the Juvenile Detention Center.  In a lot of cases, we are having to compete for those same individuals.” He added, “Yes, we are a larger community.  We have the two communities here. I think when you compare us to other areas and see the number of staff that all three facilities need to operate, it requires more staff than other communities our same size.”

Clay County Social Services (CCSS) Director Rhonda Porter appeared to request approval, which was granted, to hire a full-time Case-Aide position in the Child and Family Unit.  The vacancy will occur as of January 1, 2022. Porter explained, “We are fortunate to have a person give us that length of a notice.”  She explained that the position is critical in helping the Child Protection Case Managers effectively handle their caseloads.

 The Case Aide position provides:

·       *transportation and supervised visits for children in foster care

·       *prepares case records for disclosure in Child Protection court proceedings

·       *completes relative searches for children entering out-of-home placement

·       *completes data entry for Child Protection Case Managers

·       *E-files documents to the court for Child Protection Cases

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