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Children’s Summit

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The Children’s Summit was a four-day event that took place virtually Jan. 11 through Jan. 14, 2022, bringing together experts from across Minnesota to create solutions for issues facing the state’s behavioral health system for young people.

The Children’s Summit:

  • Explored gaps in Minnesota’s current continuum of care
  • Identified new approaches to build the road to health and resiliency for children
  • Created immediate, actionable solutions for the urgent problems facing the behavioral health system of care for Minnesota’s young people
  • Found solutions that will help assure all children have access to behavioral health care at a level of care appropriate for their needs.

Identifying barriers and developing solutions

The Minnesota Department of Human Services and the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet invited the public to attend summit presentations and participate in its work sessions. Presentations focused on equity, breaking down silos between systems, and the vision forward for children’s behavioral health care in Minnesota, among other topics. In addition, youth presenters shared their perspectives on supports that their peers need.

Behavioral health experts, leaders, and members of the public then participated in working sessions to identify the most pressing needs in our children’s behavioral health system, and develop detailed plans to remove barriers and ensure equitable access to behavioral health services for all Minnesota youth. Action plans with proposed solutions were presented on the final day of the summit, and the plans have been compiled into a report, available here: 2022 Children’s Mental Health Summit Summary Report (PDF)

Learn more about the presentations in the agenda for the Children’s Summit. Descriptions of the working sessions are available in this working sessions one-pager (PDF).

Making progress on summit recommendations

DHS and the Children’s Cabinet have been using the summit report to make recommendations to state leadership. State agencies and their partners have also begun taking steps to implement recommendations from the action plans, where appropriate. Below are some examples of summit-initiated work.

  • DHS and the Minnesota Department of Education have addressed the barriers in accessing Medicaid for school-based mental health services and submitted recommendations to Legislature.
  • DHS has begun a rate study focusing on mental health and substance use treatment services.
  • DHS has increased funding for residential providers to accept children with complex needs.
  • DHS has created an intensive unit for hospital decompression and launched a statewide survey for hospitals.
  • DHS launched new grant programs to include substance use treatment programs in schools.
  • DHS created statewide mobile transition units for children in residential settings such as Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities and the Children and Adolescent Behavioral Health Hospital.
  • DHS created a grant program to provide substance use treatment in Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities.

Other ongoing work in the wake of the Children’s Summit includes reform efforts for the Children’s Therapeutic Services and Supports program, and a push for statewide implementation of CLAS standards for all mental health, substance use disorder and disability programs. DHS is also collaborating with the Minnesota Department of Corrections to explore a possible federal waiver to invest in community-based options for children and youth.

One Size Does Not Fit All campaign

The Children’s Summit has also inspired a social awareness campaign that aims to improve behavioral health care for youth.

Feedback from the Children’s Summit illuminated the need for systemwide unity. It called for a blueprint for change to better support young people and their families in Minnesota. One of the strongest takeaways from the summit was that “one size does not fit all” when it comes to delivering effective and inclusive behavioral health services for youth. But what exactly does that mean? What will help facilitate alignment with stakeholders, providers and communities? What next steps are needed to achieve success?

With the “one size does not fit all” message as a guide, DHS and the Children’s Cabinet are currently working with a consultant to gather insight from leaders at multiple state agencies, behavioral health providers, youth advocates, families and community members. This insight will inform a campaign to build buy-in for a framework that helps Minnesota deliver more individualized, culturally responsive behavioral health services for youth. Engagement strategies will include focus groups, interviews, and World Cafés, among others.

Check this webpage in the coming weeks to find opportunities to participate in the campaign’s engagement process.

Who was involved?

Minnesota Department of Human Services and the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet hosted the 2022 Children’s Summit, and continue to work on summit-related initiatives. Participants in the summit’s working sessions included experts and leaders from a variety of children-serving systems across Minnesota, including leaders in the fields of health, education, child protection, child development, corrections, and more.


If you have questions about the summit or summit-related work, please email

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