WILLMAR -- The need for families willing to adopt children in Kandiyohi County has grown over the last year, with at least 11 kids currently waiting to be adopted.
In 2009 there were no children on the waiting list, which was unusual, said Kandiyohi County Family Services Supervisor Kathy Nelson.
Because of an increase in parental termination in 2010, the number of children needing permanent homes has risen to 11, with three more children likely to be added to the list.
"It's been a busy year," said Nelson in a brief presentation Wednesday to the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners.
Nelson said there are 341 kids in the state looking for adoptive families.
Kandiyohi County has its own adoption program which matches children with families. Some of the children waiting to be adopted have special needs, are older children, are in a sibling group that wants to stay together or are children of color.
The commissioners approved a resolution setting November as adoption awareness month.
The commissioners this week also heard from Tiffany Collins, transit director from Kandiyohi Area Transit, about funding a financial gap in mileage reimbursements for volunteers who drive elderly residents to medical appointments.
Drivers are paid 50 cents a mile for using their own vehicles to drive individuals who have no other way to get to the doctor.
Because of a change this year in how the state interprets the federal law, Medical Assistance will reimburse the driver only for the miles when the client is in the car. If a client is taken to Minneapolis and spends the night in the hospital, the driver is not get reimbursed for driving back home or returning to the hospital to pick up the client.
The county is currently funding the gap, which is expected to cost $10,000 to $15,000 a year.
The commissioners praised KAT for keeping administrative costs low and for working with the county to coordinate rides with other entities and to schedule rides so that multiple clients can be transported in one vehicle.
Collins met with area county transit systems last week that are also struggling to find ways to fund the so-called "no load" miles and to keep expenses low.
Commissioner Harlan Madsen said without a service like this, many elderly residents would not get the medical care they need, which would end up costing the county more money in the long run. "It's an investment in the safety of people," said Madsen.
Collins said there is a need for more volunteer drivers for the program, which has requests for four to eight passengers every day. KAT will be recognizing eight drivers who have been volunteers for 10 years.
Family Services Director Jay Kieft gave a summary of a recent Kids Count survey that indicates that the poverty rate for Kandiyohi County children is higher than the state average. He said one in every six children in the county is living in poverty, with one in five receiving free and reduced school lunches.