Weather Forecast


RAP program hoping for $50K grant

Wadena County Social Services is applying for a two-year $50,960 homeless programs grant to continue its Release Action Planning program.

RAP is designed to create plans to meet the immediate needs of released inmates with the goal of improving their health status and reducing recidivism.

South Country Health Alliance provided a one-year $16,000 grant to start RAP in Wadena County in 2007, but denied a request for another grant due to lack of funds. The program is based on a successful version that has operated in Stearns County for several years.

The county served 13 people in 2008 and expects that number to increase to 16 per year, said Paul Sailer, the county's human services director.

Inmates voluntarily request RAP to help with housing, food, employment, child support and medical needs, according to the grant application. Inmates served by RAP in 2008 have a high rate of mental illness and chemical dependency.

These homeless grants from the Minnesota Department of Human Services usually go to bigger communities with larger homeless populations, Sailer said. But the DHS didn't discourage their application.

"They're interested in the fact that we're looking at that unique group of people who are coming out of jail who are asking to get some help to find work, to find housing," he said.

Lori Miller, a social services supervisor who leads the RAP program, said the county works with two different motels with rates determined on the length of stay.

The RAP program is only for Wadena County residents, said Sheriff Mike Carr.

If the program is successful at reducing recidivism it may help with out-of-county boarding costs, he said. There is also a lot of mental illness among inmates and tax payers cover the cost of their medication when they are in jail. The program needs three years to see if it is working, Carr said.

The grant may require matching funds, Sailer said. If so, the county might not proceed with it. The county has made the argument with the state that this is a poor county with high unemployment, he said.

Grant funds will provide in-kind contributions for the time of RAP team members who consist of a social worker, jail nurse, probation officer, child support officer, public assistance worker, vocational rehab worker and jail ministry. The grant will also allow the county to provide an employee to assist former inmates for up to 30 days in order to the meet the plan developed through RAP, according to the application.