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County solidifies drug court process

Pierce County's drug court moved closer to becoming a regular county program Monday evening.

The county board's finance and personnel committee voted to consolidate drug court funds into a single 2006 budget, to approve the drug court coordinator position description, and to authorize posting and hiring to fill the job.

Pierce County's drug court was established in the fall of 2004 as a pilot program. The coordinator job was filled by an AmeriCorps member assigned to the human services department. When her AmeriCorps term ended, the coordinator continued as a limited-term employee.

Monday's action allows the county to hire a permanent part-time drug court coordinator. The position will be a 60 percent of fulltime Social Worker I, represented by the human services teamsters union. Hourly pay for Social Worker I is $20.26.

Minimum qualifications for the job are a bachelor's degree in social work, mental health, criminal justice or related field, or four years experience in related program development and administration.

The worker will coordinate a caseload of clients, and determine and make recommendations to the drug court team.

The coordinator will work with drug court clients, serving as a liaison between the court, law enforcement agencies, treatment providers and the community. The coordinator will screen and gather demographic information on offenders who might qualify for drug court, explain the court to offenders, maintain files and database systems, prepare and organize drug court meetings, and facilitate client participation by conducting home visits, coordinating drug and alcohol testing and assisting participants in developing life skills and accessing drug treatment, services and support.

The county has applied for another grant that could offset drug court costs. But District Attorney John O'Boyle said the grant process is competitive and the county may not get the money.

Former County Supervisor Greg Kerr asked about the possibility of partnering with St. Croix County to offer the services.

O'Boyle said St. Croix doesn't have a drug court yet and its potential drug court team members haven't gone through the federal training process.

It would be difficult for Pierce County to link with a program that isn't at the same stage, agreed John Kucinski, who serves on both the finance committee and the drug court committee.