Hours cut at Human Services office

Published 7:58 am Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mower County Human Services will soon have some additional time to cover caseloads.

Around the start of 2011, Human Services will be closed two half days each week to the public so employees can devote their time to covering cases.

Since July 1, the office has been closed for half of every Wednesday, and Commissioner David Hillier said the change has proved beneficial. The county board approved a request for the public service window to be closed a second half day.

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“Closure of the human service window another half day would allow the financial workers at least a place to get some more done uninterrupted time,” Director Julie Stevermer said. “It doesn’t mean that our office is closed.”

Clients would be able to access department employees by appointment only.

When the office is closed to the public, the workers can devote more time to working on cases and other duties in the office without interruption.

The office can’t close to the public for one full day because of state statute. Staff is yet to determine which days the office will close. The office will not be closed when a translator is at human services because those are busy days, HiIlier said.

Because of the department’s high case load, Stevermer will continue looking for ways to operate Human Services more efficiently.

One way to do that would be by updating technology so the office operates more efficiently.

“It’s a way of managing without adding extra costs,” Stevermer said.

However, some of those updates would be costly, as Stevermer said some equipment would cost upwards of $100,000.

If staff can’t keep up with the case load, they could lose incentive money from the state.

“We’re between a rock and a hard place,” Stevermer said.