Probation agents utilize local options

By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

County Probation Director Mike Schommer reports that Otter Tail County taxpayers are saving money is light of less usage of the youth detention center in Moorhead.

“Probation agents are utilizing more community-based services here in Otter Tail County, while meeting the needs of clients,” Schommer said.

Member counties, including Otter Tail County, will receive reimbursement from the juvenile center in Moorhead. Schommer said the reimbursement reflects the county’s percentage of operational costs at the facility.

Schommer and his staff members not only work with at-risk youths. They also work with family members.

In recent years Otter Tail County contracted for 4.5 beds per day at the West Central Regional Juvenile Center in Moorhead. 

The juvenile center in Moorhead has functioned as a coed 32-bed facility, as well as 15-bed non-secure care program. Services are for juveniles with behavioral, protection, dependency and delinquency issues

Member counties include Otter Tail, Cass, Clay, Becker, Wilkin, Wadena, Traverse, Grant, Douglas, Todd and Stevens. All of the counties are in Minnesota with the exception of Cass County which is in North Dakota.

The cost has averaged $83,500 per bed on a yearly basis which may seem costly. However, this was more cost effective for county taxpayers compared to Otter Tail County having its own juvenile center.

Funding is through Otter Tail County, with approval from the five-person county board of commissioners.

The juvenile center mission statement includes “providing a safe, secure setting for juveniles who are in need of out of home placement. Dignity, self-worth and responsibility are encouraged and developed. Varied and active programs include education, recreation and counseling.”