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Ask MNCDHH: Questions about DHHSD

You ask, we answer

1/22/2018 10:00:00 AM

A hummingbird is shown, mid-flight.

DHHS had been "neglected" for a long time until a crisis of funding arrived. Finally, action took place and got legislator additional funding. Will the deaf/DB/hoh see improvements; or, is there an obvious need to get more funding support?

Over the years, the Minnesota Department of Human Services Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division (DHHSD) has faced the same budget problems as most other state agencies. In 2014, MNCDHH's board voted to include addressing DHHSD needs as goal #4 of 6 goals.  

From 2015-2017, the Commission advocated for laws that would support and modernize DHHSD. DHHSD worked hard to ask the community what services they wanted them to deliver and estimated how much it would cost.

Improvements

The division received some temporary funding in 2015 that was good for two years. In 2017, DHHSD received permanent new money. There are many improvements people who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing will see from the 2015 and 2017 funding:

  • Northwestern Minnesota has a DHHSD mental health specialist fluent in American Sign Language.
  • Northern Minnesota has culturally affirmative mental health services for children.
  • Minnesotans who are deafblind and were on the waiting list for technology and training funds have all been served and additional people are being served.
  • All of the DHHSD regional office technology labs have updated equipment so people who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing can try out modern equipment.
  • People will soon have an easier-to-use DHHSD website with information available via video in American Sign Language and with more consumer-useful content; the division hopes to finish development of its new website by summer 2018. 
  • People who are deafblind will have training available in ProTactile and other communication systems starting in spring 2018. 
  • Families on the waiting list for deaf mentors and hard of hearing role models will begin receiving services in 2018. 
  • Psychiatric services will be available in American Sign Language; target starting date is fall 2018.

What's next

The next budget year is 2019 (budget years occur during odd-numbered years, e.g. 2015, 2017, and 2019). It is too soon to know if either MNCDHH as a Governor-appointed commission or DHHSD through the Governor's Office will need to send another bill to increase funds. DHHSD will not be able to announce any funding requests unless the Governor agrees and includes it in his/her bill.

For additional information, you can review DHHSD's strategic plan: 

You can also contact temporary Acting Director Amy McQuaid-Swanson at amy.mcquaid.swanson@state.mn.us with any additional questions.

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