Cass County Human Services Brings On New Director

Cass County has been working to fix deep rooted issues within it's Human Services department since an investigation last October turned up evidence of a hostile work environment.

FARGO, N.D. – In October, a resignation letter containing allegations that Cass County Human Services was a ‘hostile workplace’, and that employees were being bullied by managers, would launch a full blown investigation.

The author of that letter, Jennifer Aldinger, stated that the case load for workers was far above average, with workers receiving 70 cases over a two month period.

The investigation produced a report that stated most human services employees dreaded coming to work on Monday morning.

As part of their effort to solve these issues, the Human Services Zone Board decided to bring on a new director, Pearl Ferguson.

“There are some things that are going to happen quickly, within 30 days some things will change. When we talk about an entire cultural turn around, that’s going to take a long time. We’re not talking about just me wanting a good culture, but engaging the staff and having them be agents of change as well,” said Pearl Ferguson.

Ferguson’s background is in Business Administration, and Healthcare Administration. She’s spent most of her career working for non-profits, including overseeing the care for elderly patients at Northland Healthcare Alliance in Minot.

The board voted unanimously to appoint Ferguson as the new director of Cass County Human Services, and providing she passes her background check, she’d begin work on March 16th.

Board members are excited for her to get to work, and are expecting a complete overhaul of the organization and it’s culture.

Two staff members who were identified as having allegedly bullied Aldinger, Family Services Director Linda Dorff, and Child Protective Services Supervisor Rick VanCamp, have been sent letters that the board intends to place them on a performance improvement plan.

“If people want to change, and want to grow, they will. I feel like it’s my job through the performance management process to set goals, and to set expectations and to educate and train them to do the things that they don’t have resources to learn themselves,” said Ferguson.

If the board feel as if those managers have not improved, they can vote to take action on March 16th.

Actions can range from suspension to termination.

Chip Ammerman, the current executive director being replaced, will get a different position within the organization once Ferguson takes over.

Categories: Local News, North Dakota News, Politics / Elections