Minnesota Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper is recognizing the work of programs throughout the state for their contributions to human services and their communities.
The Commissioner's Circle of Excellence Awards recognize excellence among human services providers, counties, tribes, advocacy groups and other organizations that work in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Human Services to help people meet their basic needs so they can live in dignity and achieve their highest potential. This is the seventh annual awards.
The 2018 Commissioner’s Circle of Excellence Award recipients are:
- Franklin Industries and Cedar Mountain Cougar Cub Child Care, Franklin – Franklin Industries Inc. was started to address the need for affordable child care in the community. The company sold stock in its organization to build community ownership and secured public and private financing for purchasing land and building a child care center. The collaborative efforts of Franklin Industries and Cedar Mountain Schools led to the opening of Cougar Cub Child Care Center in December 2016. The early learning center for ages 6 weeks to school-age aims to provide children with social, emotional, physical and cognitive opportunities that allow them to develop to their fullest potential. The center works with Parent Aware and uses curriculum that aligns with Minnesota’s early learning standards.
- Life House, Duluth – Life House works with more than 750 teens and young adults in the Duluth area each year, aiming to provide a place of safety, acceptance and belonging to the community's disadvantaged and disenfranchised youth. Life House’s core programs – the drop-in Youth Center, Housing, Mental Health & Wellness, and Futures Education & Employment – create a scaffolding to support young people on their journey from surviving to thriving. Life House operates under a “no reject/no eject” philosophy, ensuring no young person is left to fend for themselves on the streets.
- Red Lake Nation Oshkiimaajitahdah - “Oshkiimaajitahdah is committed to educating families to discover their strengths as individuals,” as its mission statement describes. Oshkiimaajitahdah is a culturally grounded Temporary Assistance for Needy Families/employment services program on the Red Lake Nation. It offers employment and career development services, cultural programming, GED/Adult Basic Education, and on-site child care to help participants meet their employment goals and become self-sufficient
- St. Paul Police Department, Cops Autism Response Education, St. Paul – The St. Paul Police Department’s Cops Autism and Response Education (CARE) program helps peace officers better identify and serve people on the autism spectrum. Training officers to better identify and understand “invisible disabilities,” such as autism, leads to better service and better outcomes for community members and officers alike. The CARE program – along with support from those on the spectrum, their families and support organizations – such as the Autism Society of Minnesota, Fraser and VITALS – has enabled the department to provide trusted service with respect to people who previously might not have received the help, support and services they need.
- Volunteers of America; Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis, Jewish Family Service of St. Paul, and GlobeGlow Consulting & Research
- Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis (JFCS) as the lead agency, in collaboration with Jewish Family Service of St. Paul (JFSSP) and GlobeGlow Consulting & Research, Inc., worked together on the Providing Services, Education and Resources for Persons with Dementia and their Caregivers project. The project was designed to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach to serve Somali, Russian-speaking, Jewish and Christian seniors. The focus was on increasing cognitive testing; connecting caregivers to services, education and resources; and increasing awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
- Volunteers of America-Minnesota’s Caregiver Support and Dementia Services helps address racial health equity gaps, reflected in higher instances of chronic disease and healthcare disparities. Caregiver Services provides culturally and linguistically appropriate support, information, and resources for our diverse aging population and those that care for them, with an emphasis on those facing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. The service offers culturally specific and evidence-based caregiver education, caregiver support groups, individual/family assessments, care planning, caregiver coaching, memory screenings, community outreach, and respite care to more than 1,000 individuals and families to promote independence and enhance their well-being and quality of life.
- White Earth Nation Human Services WECARE – WECARE (White Earth Coordination Assessment Resources & Education) is White Earth Reservation’s two-generational approach to supporting family services. The goal is to fully align, integrate and implement the WECARE program across the White Earth Reservation. This process engages families in a meaningful way in the development of their own case plans, with accountabilities and support at the client and system level for accomplishment of the goals identified in the plan. WECARE is a tribally coordinated system that supports specific data systems and demographic and other relevant data that facilitates the coordination of services.
“It is an honor to recognize these leaders in human services helping all Minnesotans through hard work, innovation and partnerships,” Commissioner Piper said. “These organizations highlight the real impacts our work has on individuals’ lives, from youth to families to older adults, across the state.”
DHS leadership will travel to each organization to present their awards recognize their work within their communities. These visits will take place over the summer and fall.