News and updates on the DHS efforts to assist Minnesota's families and children.
19th annual celebration honors 2016 adoptive families
Minnesota’s newest adoptive families, as well as those interested in adoption, will celebrate together Sunday, Nov. 6, during the 19th annual Celebrate Adoption: A Circus of the Heart, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Envision (formerly the Prom Center Event Facility) in Oakdale. Recognizing the 662 children who have been adopted from the foster care system in the past year, the Minnesota Department of Human Services and its partners celebrate and encourage families to consider making a lifelong impact on children through adoption. Celebrate Adoption is open to the public to gather information from state, county, nonprofit and private agency adoption experts. Families will enjoy face painting, pony rides, music, games, crafts and prize drawings. The Minnesota Department of Human Services, MN ADOPT, counties and adoption agencies are sponsoring this year’s celebration.
Parents, others on task force working to improve child support system
The Child Support Task Force, established by the 2016 Minnesota Legislature, has chosen four final members to represent parents, and convened its first meeting Sept. 28. Responsible for making recommendations to DHS, the task force looks to maintain and improve child support guidelines, and objectively discusses complex data and policy issues facing the child support system. Parent members include Tammie Campbell, Plymouth; Jimmy Lloyd, Fridley; Jason Smith, North Mankato; and Laura Vang, Brooklyn Center. They will work with representatives from the department, the Minnesota County Attorney’s Association, the Minnesota Family Support Recovery Council, Minnesota Court Administration, the Minnesota Legal Services Coalition, Minnesota Native American Tribal Child Support Programs, the Minnesota State Bar Association, the Minnesota House of Representatives and the Minnesota Senate. The task force will meet three more times this year, and quarterly in 2017, and submit a report with recommendations to the Minnesota Legislature in February 2018. More information on the task force, its members and upcoming meetings is on the department’s Child Support Task Force page.
More foster children listed on State Adoption Exchange, less time waiting
The number of children listed on the State Adoption Exchange, Minnesota’s database of foster children in need of permanent homes, has doubled over the past two years. After an internal review, recommendations included giving MN ADOPT staff access to department child welfare data, the Social Services Information System, to work directly with counties to register more children on the exchange within the required 30-day window, and ensuring that less time is spent in limbo for foster children who are legally adoptable. More information on adoption can be found on the department’s website.
DHS leaders bring child support expertise to committees
Child Support Division Director Jeff Jorgenson and Deputy Director Shaneen Moore support Minnesota’s children through their work in the department and on committees, both locally and nationally. Jorgenson and Moore were recently appointed to the National Council of Child Support Directors Committee, working to ensure states understand new requirements and easily share information across state lines. Jorgenson serves as the committee’s Region V representative, speaking for Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana. Moore was recently appointed to the Minnesota State Council on Disability, engaging members across the state to advise the governor, Legislature and providers on the needs of Minnesotans with disabilities. More information on Jorgenson and Moore’s work can be found on the department’s website.
Partners to help reduce disparities, strengthen families
DHS recently awarded $1.5 million per year in three-year grants to eight tribes, counties and community agencies to reduce disparities in the child welfare system. Appropriated by the 2016 Minnesota Legislature, funds are planned for the development, implementation and evaluations of activities addressing disparities and the disproportionality of African-American and American Indian children and families involved in child welfare. More information is in a news release on the grants and organizations receiving them.
Parent Support Outreach Program aims to help children, parents
The program that aims to help prevent child abuse and neglect served more than 5,700 Minnesota children and their families in 2015. The Parent Support Outreach Program, focusing on prevention and early intervention, helps address problems in families before they become crises. Participation in the program is voluntary and services include case management, counseling, parent education and enhancing parent-child interactions. Families may also receive help addressing their basic needs of food, clothing and shelter to reduce risk of future child maltreatment. More information can be found on the Parent Support Outreach Program page.
$250,000 grant will help families with low incomes get nutritious food
Families and individuals with low incomes will have more access to nutritious food through a new $250,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services awarded to Second Harvest Heartland, one of the nation’s largest food banks. The grant will help fund Second Harvest’s Food Security project for those who need hunger relief, and providing sizable boxes of healthy food each month for people with diabetes and pre-diabetes. Second Harvest Heartland serves more than 500,000 people a year in 59 counties across Minnesota and western Wisconsin. More information is in a news release about the grant.
Counties pilot new foster parent training
Recently, the Minnesota Child Welfare Training System introduced Foster Parent College, a blended classroom and online training for new foster families, currently being piloted in Douglas, Hennepin, Pope, Washington and Wright counties. While counties currently require 12 sessions between foster parents and trainers, Foster Parent College allows parents to complete the majority of their training online, and take part in only four face-to-face sessions. This concentration on online learning allows more families the opportunity to fit foster care parent training into their schedules. Currently, Minnesota families care for almost 12,200 children in foster face. More information about foster care is on the department’s website.
Minnesota foster youth doing more with SELF funds
Support for Emancipation and Living Functionality (SELF) funds now cover foster care expenses for age-appropriate activities, including sports and graduation. Due to 2014 federal legislation, foster parents may apply for SELF funds from their county to pay for fees associated with approved activities. Adolescents between 14- and 20-years-old who have been or are currently in out-of-home placement are eligible for these funds, designed to help youth transition out of the foster care system and into adulthood. In 2015, more than 1,400 youth received these funds from county agencies. More information about SELF funds is available on the department’s website.
LGBTQ Youth Practice Guide available in more languages
The Minnesota Department of Human Services youth practice guide, Working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning/queer (LGBTQ) youth (PDF), is now available in Spanish, Hmong and Somali. The practice guide has statistical information on LGBTQ youth, a glossary and resource list as well as information on preserving relationships and reunifying with birth families; engaging and building relationships with LGBTQ youth; ensuring LGBTQ youth safety; and considering circumstances for transgender youth.
Provider enrollment starts for new autism benefit
Effective July 1, 2015, the Minnesota Department of Human Services began enrolling providers to deliver a new early intensive intervention Medical Assistance benefit for children and young adults with autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. Families and children will be able to access services later this summer. Under the new benefit, covered services will be designed to improve social interaction, communication and behavioral regulation skills at a critical time in development, promoting fuller participation by children in their family, schools and community life. Families interested in the new benefit should contact their county, tribe or managed care plan. More information is available in a news release and on the DHS website.
Safe sleep practices for infants can save lives
Parents, families, hospitals and child care providers can help reduce the risk of sleep-related infant deaths by following simple, safe sleep practices. In Minnesota, over a five-year period beginning in 2009, there were 247 deaths in which an unsafe sleep environment, such as placing the infant in a tummy position, co-sleeping in adult beds or on sofas, or having infants sleep with pillows or blankets, was a contributing factor. Greater awareness about safe sleep practices can help turn around those numbers.
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