News and updates on the DHS efforts to assist Minnesota's families and children. Subscribe to News from DHS if you would like to be added to a monthly email notification list for department news and website updates.
New site provides in-depth look at nutrition programs
With proper nutrition, children learn more easily, adults work more productively and seniors are healthier. Hundreds of thousands of Minnesota’s children, seniors and people with disabilities rely on federal nutrition programs for their daily meals, and they now have an interactive resource for learning about those programs. A website, 2018 Farm bill: Minnesota’s nutrition programs, provides an in-depth look at two U.S. Department of Agriculture programs – the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) – and the breadth of their impact on Minnesotans. The website also features an interactive county map and congressional district data. Congress authorizes funding and policies for SNAP and TEFAP in the federal farm bill, and current authorization for funding expires in September 2018. The Minnesota Department of Human Services oversees the program. More information about the new website on nutrition programs can be found in a department press release.
Refugee contributions highlighted in new award series
Refugees contribute hard work and entrepreneurship to our communities, and are increasingly taking on roles as civic leaders. To celebrate this, the Minnesota Department of Human Services initiated 2017 awards to honor refugees in Minnesota for their courage, resilience and entrepreneurship, and to recognize their contributions to the state. The department selected seven Minnesotans to honor with Outstanding Refugee Awards in the program’s first year – four of whom were honored for civic leadership, and three of whom were honored for entrepreneurial leadership. More information about the awards, the honorees and the role that the department plays in supporting refugees is available in a department news release.
New video details options for mothers, fathers for establishing parentage
Many parents don’t know their options or understand the benefits of determining parentage when their child is born. The Minnesota Department of Human Services created a new video, “Establishing Parentage — What Every Mother and Father Should Know,” to help new, unmarried parents decide how they want to establish parentage and understand the benefits. The video focuses on two ways to establish parents, signing the Recognition of Parentage form or genetic testing. The video also covers related subjects, such as child support, custody and parenting time. DHS translated the eight-minute video into four languages. More information is available on the recognition of parentage page.
Task force working to improve child support guidelines
Established by the 2016 Minnesota Legislature, the Child Support Task Force is working to develop recommendations to improve Minnesota’s child support guidelines. The task force includes parents, legislators, court and child support professionals, and staff from organizations that work with parents who pay or receive child support. Starting in September, the task force will feature expanded time for public comments at its next four meetings for parents to share their experiences, challenges and make suggestions for program improvements. The meetings with time for public comments will end in December. More information about the child support task force is on the department’s website.
DHS, counties reach out to parents to reinstate driver’s licenses
During Child Support Awareness Month, the Minnesota Department of Human Services and county support offices are sending letters to parents who have fallen behind on child support to help them start paying again and get their driver’s licenses back. The goal is to help parents get back on track and help their children get the financial support they need. Last August, Ramsey County implemented a similar project. Since then, parents owing child support have paid $330,000 million in support. DHS and other counties will institute a similar project across the state. More information is on the child support website page.
Child Care Emergency Plan released for care, preparation of children in care
With more than 12,000 child care facilities across the state serving more than 230,000 children every day, the Minnesota Department of Human Services’ Children and Family Services and Office of Inspector General, in partnership with other state, county and public partners, created the Child Care Emergency Plan (PDF) to assist families, child care providers, counties, and state agencies prepare for and respond to emergencies and disasters, and ensure the health and safety of children in these situations. More information can be found on the department’s child care research page.
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 will soon convene its last meeting of 2016. Responsible for making recommendations to the department, 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 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.
Partners to help reduce disparities, strengthen families
The department 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.
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.