Grand Forks County finds a provider for services formerly run by Lutheran Social Services

County commissioners were unanimous in awarding two contracts to Youthworks, a group that works with, among others, runaway and homeless youth, juvenile offenders and children who are failing in school.

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The Grand Forks County Office Building, photographed on Nov. 23, 2015. Photo by Nick Nelson/Grand Forks Herald

The Grand Forks County Commission has entered into agreements with a nonprofit group to take over programs that were previously administered by Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota.

Commissioners were unanimous in awarding two contracts to Youthworks, a group that works with, among others, runaway and homeless youth, juvenile offenders and children who are failing in school. Youthworks will operate the Attendant Care program , which provides temporary supervision to juveniles who have committed minor offenses, and the DIVERT program, a mentoring and outreach program for at-risk youth. Both programs were operated by LSSND, which announced its closure in mid-January.

Youthworks has offices in Bismarck and Fargo, and will open a location in Grand Forks to administer the programs. The organization has hired LSSND staff, and Executive Director Melanie Heitkamp said the effort to take over the programs and avoid a gap in services is proceeding “smoothly.”

“Our hope is that the service delivery is somewhat seamless and there isn't a break in the services that are provided,” Heitkamp told commissioners at a special meeting held Tuesday, Feb. 23. “I have managers up in the Grand Forks area right now looking for office space.”

Youthworks will receive $34,940 to operate the Attendant Care program, and $12,833 for the DIVERT program. The contracts run from March 1 through the end of the year, and can be renewed.


In other Grand Forks County Commission news:

Grand Forks County has received bids for renovation and construction work to be done at the county courthouse and State’s Attorney’s Office, but commissioners delayed selecting a contractor, in order to negotiate a deal for another portion of the work.

County staff will reach out to ICS, Inc., which submitted the lowest bid, to see if the contractor can do the entire project at a lower rate than the highest bidder. This is necessary because in addition to general construction, the project also requires electrical and mechanical work. Three contractors submitted bids ranging from $129,800 to $149,900, but two of the bids, including the bid submitted by ICS, were only for the construction work. The highest bid, submitted by Construction Engineers, includes the necessary electrical and mechanical work.

Adam Kurtz is the community editor for the Grand Forks Herald. He covers higher education and other topics in Grand Forks County and the city.

Kurtz joined the Herald in July 2019. He covered business and county government topics before covering higher education and some military topics.

Tips and story ideas are welcome. Get in touch with him at, or DM at @ByAdamKurtz.

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