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The members of the Northern Valley Human Services Zone board held a meeting via teleconference on the morning of Monday, May 11. The agenda covered a multitude of topics that all related to the zonal plan that is due to the state by June 1, 2020.

Northern Valley Human Services Zone Director Jill Denault updated the board members, chaired by Cavalier County Commissioner Stanley Dick, on issues that needed to be addressed during the meeting. The board reviewed issues that had been raised during previous meetings as well as concerns raised by the Cavalier County Commission as the host county.

The board discussed drug testing and weather policy. With the weather policy, it was decided that each social services office located in the three counties would follow that courthouse on closures due to weather. Denault and the board believed this made the most sense as the geographical area is so wide.

The next item was related to vehicles and mileage. The board discussed the issue of liability insurance making it clear that when workers used personal vehicles for work rather than zonal vehicles that their insurance liability would be first in the event of an accident and not the zone’s. The decision to set mileage for board members as starting from their place of residence was made, and the board also agreed that mileage for workers would begin from their place of work.

Remaining issues discussed were that of HR and how to handle situations. Denault explained that certain situations would have to follow state guidelines rather than the host county’s policy. Dick stated that in those situations, the knowledge of how to make the state and county HR work together would be important.

Denault presented an example of a client complaint form that would be kept as a hard copy. Denault explained that other zones have implemented a written complaint form in order to maintain a paper trail of the client’s complaint. The board felt this would be an appropriate and good step to take in order to ensure clients and workers were protected and complaints handled.

The board and Denault closed by discussing how the social services has adapted to working during COVID-19. Denault stated that the majority of the staff are working from home with limited staff maintaining actual office hours. Denault does not foresee this being an issue and stated that her staff have adapted well to the change.

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