Behavioral Health finds way to ‘grow our own’ employees

Plumas County Behavioral Health Director Tony Hobson believes he has found a new way to “grow our own” when it comes to finding hard to come by clinical employees.

With the full support of the Plumas County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Jan. 21, Hobson is authorized to launch a new employee loan program.

This is one of a number of departmental requests on the regular consent agenda. Supervisors approved the agenda without discussion.

This program is in the amount of $10,000 and is between Plumas County and a full-time Behavioral Health employee to participate in specified education and training. Kristie Rood is the therapist and masters in social work intern who between June 2018 and June 2019 participated in approved education and training. Others will follow.

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Under the service agreement, Behavioral Health would repay loans in the amount of $10,000 for each full-time employee for the Mental Health Services Act Workforce Education and Training Behavioral Health Employee Loan Assumption Program.

And there are conditions attached to the loan repayment plan, Hobson explained in background material to the board. To participate in the program, an eligible employee must sign an agreement stipulating that he or she will complete employment with Behavioral Health at a full-time status for a year, which is the equivalent of 2,080 hours.

The employee must also maintain an acceptable performance level according to county merit evaluations, and not violate the conditions of the agreement.

The agreement is also considered invalid should the person be terminated from the Behavioral Health Department, or not request educational-related loan repayment balance statements.

Hobson requested that supervisors allow him to sign service agreements with eligible employees. Funding comes through the state Mental Health Loan Assumption Program with the Behavioral Health Department offering a local incentive program to current employees.

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What funding currently does is help provide a needed care provider for Behavioral Health, Hobson explained. This position works with assisting the homeless.

Eligibility is considered for employees who have completed a degree toward licensure in identified hard-to-fill positions in the department.

These areas might include family therapists, licensed clinical social workers, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and professional administrators.

According to Hobson, the program enrolls up to six full-time department employees through a competitive application process. The successful employees have demonstrated completion of the equivalent of 12 continuous months of employment. The mandated MHSA lifetime maximum allowed per employee is $60,00 combined.

The authority to develop a loan assumption program is under the California Code of Regulations Title 9 Workforce Education and Training.

Vacancy announced

The Department of Social Services is looking for an eligibility specialist supervisor, Social Services Department Neal Caiazzo told supervisors.

He was requesting approval to fill the vacancy created when an employee resigned earlier in January.

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This position supervises a unit of seven eligibility specialists and a lead eligibility specialist within the department.

The staff processes applications and continuing eligibility for economic assistance programs including CalFresh, Medi-Cal and the county general assistance program. “As your board is aware, demands for these programs have been high due to the expansion of the Medicaid Program,” Caiazzo said.

The position is already funded within the department’s fiscal budget.

Contract approval

A 90-day extension to an existing contract with Pro Vote Solutions for ballot printing services was requested by Kathy Williams, Plumas County Clerk-Recorder.

Williams said that an existing contract ends Jan. 31 and she wanted to extend it to March 3.

She said the contract extension would cover the March 3 primary election.

Pro Vote Solutions is one of the printers certified by the California Secretary of State for official ballot printing, Williams explained.

Williams was given approval to sign the contract extension.

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