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Integrated services guide: The basics

Human services programs are large and complicated, don’t always work together and receive funding in different ways. We have many different ways of serving people across the state, which makes it hard for anyone to know what to expect from us. It’s also hard for people to learn about their options and make decisions that best fit their goals, wants and needs. 

In the past, we viewed technology as the main thing we needed to use to make our programs up-to-date and simpler to use. But now we understand real change is only possible if we also work to build better business processes and support a culture that makes ongoing improvements. We need to know how and why to use technology before we can use it to successfully deliver connected services and create person-centered experiences.

The vision for connecting services means giving people an experience that improves, but doesn’t interfere with, their daily lives. And we are not alone in sharing this vision. Federal agencies that fund and supervise the programs we deliver encourage states to make these changes, as do local partners.

Developing a new model

We relied on relationships

We partnered with the Minnesota Association of County Social Service Administrators (MACSSA) and White Earth Tribal Nation to set a shared vision for integrated services delivery in Minnesota. The result is a guiding model for integrated services that aims to change the way people experience the human services system.  

The project team contacted programs throughout the country to learn best practices, reviewed feedback from people served, researched reports, visited county and tribal nation offices, and received technical assistance from American Public Human Services Association. All of these activities and relationships helped us complete the model in 2017. The model was and adopted in 2018, and we are now planning and moving forward with activities that build a foundation that will move us closer to reaching our vision.

We respected but didn’t rely on status quo

We didn’t limit ourselves to thinking only about our current technology and policies. We also considered the needs of the people we serve to help us decide how to move forward. We will use technology and policy to respond to those needs.


The model’s goal is to provide all Minnesotans with access to a simpler human services system. To do that we will provide: 

  • Comprehensive human services that meet individual, family and cultural  needs
  • The power for people to determine their needs, choose services and set up personal goals
  • Information access controlled by the people we serve and those working with them at all points
  • Quality customer service throughout the person’s experience

Guiding Principles 

To meet these goals, our model relies on a number of  guiding values:

  1. Racially and culturally appropriate efforts support an equitable human services delivery system.
  2. The human services framework is person-centered.
  3. Social determinants of health help identify root causes and track progress for individuals, families and communities.
  4. A multigenerational approach to providing human services takes into account the needs of the whole family, rather than one individual.
  5. Data analytics are embedded across the model to measure effectiveness and provide information for continuous service quality improvement.
  6. People can interact with human services either through self-service or with staff.
  7. There is a balance between centralized accountability and regional flexibility.
  8. Systems, actions and values are aligned toward a common vision in partnership across the state.
  9. State, county, tribal nation, community and provider staff have the tools and support they need to best serve individuals and families.


We completed the model in January 2018. By April 2018 we had started working on our plan for the next phase, which  was finalized and adopted over the following months as part of our internal strategic planning and with our county and tribal nation partners. Many initiatives listed on this site are already happening. They will build a foundation for the large-scale, long-term changes to integrate service delivery..

To learn more about ISBM

Download the complete guide

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