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Kandiyohi County sends message to state about child support program

WILLMAR -- The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners wants the state to fix, but not take over, the child support payment program.

While unanimously approving a resolution this week, the commissioners voiced skepticism about the state's claims of cost savings if the current county-operated program is turned over to the state.

The Department of Human Services appears poised to adopt a consultant's recommendation to turn the county-based system into a state-administered program.

Jay Kieft, Kandiyohi County Family Services director, said Minnesota is one of the highest ranked in the country for "getting dollars to children." He said for every $1 Kandiyohi County spends, it retrieves $5 for children in support payments.

Kieft said the state could make improvements to the system, like adjusting a cumbersome technology and reporting system, that would result in significant savings and a better program.

Commissioner Harlan Madsen said counties know how to be efficient, save money and serve clients better if the state would simply allow some flexibility in program mandates.

In light of efforts being made to redesign all programs that are funded by the state and operated by counties, the commissioners said it doesn't make sense to single out the child support program now for a state takeover.

Kieft said other counties are making similar requests.

Meanwhile, Kieft said Department of Human Services leaders have warned counties that cuts to all human services programs during this legislative session will be "excruciating."

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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