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News and updates on the DHS efforts to assist Minnesota’s families and children.

17th annual Celebrate Adoption event honors more than 500 newly created families

Children adopted from the foster care system and their new families, as well as those interested in adopting and supporting Minnesota’s waiting children, will come together Sunday, Nov. 2, at the 17th annual Celebrate Adoption: A Circus of the Heart event, highlighting recent and ongoing adoption efforts across the state, including the adoption of 539 children last year. The public is welcome to attend and gather information from tables staffed by Minnesota Department of Human Services, county, nonprofit and private agency adoption experts. Games, music, pony rides, fire trucks, face painting and other activities will be part of the event at the Prom Center Event Facility, 484 Inwood Ave., in Oakdale from 1 to 4 p.m.

Tougher law, new resources add to fight against synthetic drugs

As a tougher state law against synthetic drugs goes into effect, Minnesotans also have a new website to get factual information about the dangers and risks posed by the deadly substances. KnowTheDangers.com was created by DHS in partnership with state agencies participating in the Minnesota State Substance Abuse Strategy. At a news conference in Duluth Wednesday, Aug. 6, Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson announced the launch of the new website, which is designed to provide resources and information for parents, youth, educators, health care professionals and others who may encounter synthetic drugs. Website visitors can learn what types of substances, packaging and paraphernalia to look for, as well as what effects these drugs may have and how to reach out for help. More information is in a news release about the new law and website.

Services network for sexually exploited youth funded through DHS

The Minnesota Department of Human Services, with $1 million in funding is contracting with four Minnesota organizations for the safe harbor of trafficked youth in the state. Breaking Free, Heartland for Girls, Life House and The Link will provide emergency shelter, transitional and supportive housing specific to meet and address the needs of these youth, as well as appropriate security, survivor assistance and collaboration with law enforcement and juvenile justice systems over the next two years. More information is in a news release on the supportive services and organizations helping these exploited youth.

Initiative launched to prevent homelessness among Minnesota foster Youth

Minnesota is one of 18 states recently awarded a two-year planning grant to curb the population of homeless Minnesota youth leaving the foster care system. Thirty-five percent of homeless youth in Minnesota were in foster care at one time, according to a recent Homelessness in Minnesota report by Wilder Research. The Minnesota Department of Human Services will develop a plan for intervention strategies targeting three specific groups of youth: adolescents in foster care between the ages of 14 and 17; young adults ages 18 to 21 aging out of foster care; and homeless youth and young adults with foster care histories up to age 21.

Report highlights work to support organizations educating young children

An overview of current efforts to improve professional development opportunities in the state are contained in The Minnesota Office of Early Learning's 2012 Great Workforce Annual Report. The report, recently produced by the Minnesota departments of Health, Education and Human Services, highlights more than 25 different efforts to better support the individuals and organizations that provide early care and education for Minnesota’s young children.

SNAP applicants and recipients warned about scams

Applicants for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) should be aware there is never a fee for applying for benefits, and to be on the lookout for online ads or suspicious emails falsely offering help filling out applications. The goal of such scams is to collect personal information from potential SNAP recipients, including credit card information. The federal agency that manages SNAP reports that there have recently been scams in which applicants are asked to provide cell phone numbers and are then automatically enrolled into an expensive service without warning. A “scam alert” provides regular updates about these illegal schemes and how to get assistance if an applicant has already fallen victim.

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