A plan to improve and expand social services in Nevada’s rural areas was presented Friday to lawmakers by The Division of Child and Family Services.
Administrator Amber Howell told a joint session of the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means Committees that includes adding four family support positions and two mental health counselors to Rural Child Welfare. That program, she said, provides services including prevention, investigation and treatment of child abuse or neglect as well as family services from initial assessment to comprehensive case management for the children, parents and caregivers.
The system also handles foster care, licensing and other such services in Nevada’s rural counties.
“These positions are critical to Nevada’s rural region due to a lack of other services that are not available in rural and remote areas,” she said.
Those new positions will be stationed in Pahrump, Ely, Elko and Fernley and will cost the state a total of $616,514 over the biennium.
The budget also expands part-time administrative assistant posts in Carson City and Elko to full time to relieve the load on caseworkers, who are spending too much of their time doing clerical work.
Howell said those changes will enable caseworkers to focus on their families instead.
“They have to see families every month,” she said. “We could start potentially paying caseworkers overtime because they couldn’t get the job done during the day.”
Rural Child Welfare has a total proposed budget for the biennium of $38.4 million — more than half of which is federal funding.