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Prairie Lakes Youth Programs in Willmar requests a significant jump in daily rates from counties for 2023

The per diem Kandiyohi County pays Prairie Lakes Youth Programs to provide services for county youth is taking a significant jump in 2023. Executive Director Holly Booth told commissioners at Thursday’s board meeting that the increase is needed because of the additional services Prairie Lakes Youth Programs now offers along with other expenses.

Jennie Lippert Holly Booth at the Kandiyohi County Board meeting
Holly Booth, director of Prairie Lakes Youth Programs, speaks to the Kandiyohi County Commissioners Thursday about a needed rate increase. Jennie Lippert, county Health and Human Services director, looks on.
Screenshot / Kandiyohi County Board meeting
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WILLMAR — Finding placements for children in the correctional system or in programs that address behavioral or emotional challenges can be a major problem for counties, with wait times stretching to days, weeks and even months.

Kandiyohi County and other regional counties are in a better situation than most, with Prairie Lakes Youth Programs located right in Willmar.

"It is a huge asset for us to have this facility located right here in Kandiyohi County," said Jennie Lippert, Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services Director. "Our staff has the easy access to transition kids locally."

At Thursday's meeting of the Kandiyohi County Board, Lippert presented the 2023 purchase of services contract with Prairie Lakes Youth Programs.

The county contracts with the organization to provide secure and non-secure facilities, along with group home opportunities, for youth age 10 to 21. Each year Kandiyohi County pays Prairie Lakes Youth Programs a set per diem for each county youth placed in one of the programs.

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"Prairie Lakes is proposing a rather larger increase again this year, roughly a 22 percent increase" across its programs, Lippert said.

For the secure corrections program, the rate is increasing to $335 per day from $260 in 2022. The non-secure program and the two group homes Prairie Lakes Youth Programs operates will have a 2023 rate of $310 per day, up from $246.

More Kandiyohi County Board:
The letter writer wrote "We believe this information about the change is important to share with all the people in Kandiyohi County. We hope that the commissioners reverse their decision."

Because Kandiyohi County is one of the founding members of Prairie Lakes Youth Programs, it pays a discounted rate.

According to its website, Prairie Lakes Youth Programs was established in 1991 and is owned and operated by Chippewa, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Swift, and Yellow Medicine counties.

Non-member counties with youth placed with Prairie Lakes Youth Programs in 2023 will pay $375 per day for secured and $350 for non-secure and the group homes.

The Kandiyohi County Board unanimously approved the contract. Commissioner Corky Berg, who also sits on the Prairie Lakes Youth Programs Joint Powers Board, marked the increase, but also said such facilities have been struggling the last few years with the pandemic and changes to corrections.

Holly Booth, executive director of Prairie Lakes Youth Programs, said the organization has been doing a lot the last year to provide even more care and services to children who need it.

"At Prairie Lakes Youth Programs, we have been expanding over the last year and working on some improvements," Booth said.

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Prairie Lakes Youth Programs now offers five different programs to help reach even more youth. They include Toledo's Passage secure residential, Captain's Academy non-secure residential, Integrity House boys group home and Haven House girls group home. The newest program is Leo's Legacy non-secure residential for males ages 10 to 21.

"We serve youth in our local area as well as statewide," Booth said. "Providing an entire continuum of services for youth."

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Other additions to programming include art therapy opportunities and an on-site behavioral interventionist.

"Providing in-the-moment crisis support and management for youth," Booth said.

Moving forward into 2023, Booth said Prairie Lakes Youth Programs will be focusing on employee recruitment and retention, building improvements, technology upgrades and curriculum development to make sure it meets the needs of the facility and its youth.

"Very exciting work happening, making a difference in the lives of our kiddos in our community and beyond," Booth said.

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email slindrud@wctrib.com or direct 320-214-4373.


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