Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12The primary mission of the Public Health and Human Services Division of the county attorneys office is to provide legal representation to the countys largest department PHHS and to protect the health safety and welfare of the countys most vulnerable residents. Benjamin Stromberg leads the division. The division represents PHHS in child protection matters. When parents are unable or unwilling to provide basic health and safety for children often the only way to ensure that the childs needs are being met is through the court system. A total of 177 family cases of abuse andor neglect were brought to court last year. Were clearly at the highest level of child protection petitions that weve ever had Stromberg said. Coupled with that the cases are lasting longer. I think the reason they are lasting longer is the deeply entrenched level of mental illness and chemical dependency problems that we are seeing in parents. The heroin and opioid epidemic is a huge driver of the problems. In addition to child protection matters the PHHS division assists the countys human services department in establishing paternity establishing and enforcing child support orders guardianships truancy cases licensing matters the operation of public assistance programs civil commitments and several types of administrative proceedings. The division also represents the interests of the state in prosecuting juvenile delinquency. Children older than 10 are considered responsible for their own actions.Youth who commit some offenses are offered a second chance to do right by participating in the Youth Accountability diversion Program.The goal is to keep juveniles out of the criminal justice system while helping them to understand that they need to accept responsibility for their actions. The youth diversion program includes a restorative justice approach through participation in community programs and service and awareness of chemical dependency issues. Last year there were 1600 juvenile referrals for criminal charges. Of those 21.9 percent were offered diversion. I think certainly one of the bigger issues weve been facing is the intersection of mental illness and criminal behavior both in juveniles and adults Stromberg said. In criminal cases when someone is sentenced you are done with them generally. Here our mental health cases generally stay open and there is ongoing work in some cases for years. Stromberg supervises 11 attorneys and three investigators in the Duluth Hibbing and Virginia county attorney offices. Among their duties investigators look for public assistance fraud work on paternity cases and build cases leading to prosecutions. The level of esteem that is held in the legal community for the people who work in this division is really impressive Stromberg said. Its just a phenomenal and extremely experienced group. They are really engaged and really knowledgeable and have a level of understanding and involvement with the issues this division deals with every day. It really speaks to their dedication and how important they view the work. 2015 ST. LOUIS COUNTY ATTORNEYS ANNUAL REPORT 6 PHHS DIVISION Public Health Human Services Division Benjamin Stromberg PHHS Division Head Duluth Office Jennifer Barry Joseph Fischer Amy Lukasavitz Clarissa McDonald Charles Schumacher Patricia Shaffer Angie Shambour Virginia Office Sharon Chadwick Renae Darland Hibbing Office Gayle Goff Stacey Sundquist Investigators Katherine Finc William Klein Shawn Laine