News from DHS for August 2019

Minnesota Department of Human Services logo


August 2019

News from DHS archive

In this issue:

Jodi Harpstead to lead Department of Human Services

Jodi Harpstead

Governor Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan announced Aug. 12 that Jodi Harpstead will be the next Minnesota Department of Human Services commissioner, effective Tuesday, Sept. 3. Commissioner-designate Harpstead comes to DHS from Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, one of the largest social service providers in the state. She also previously was employed at Medtronic for more than 20 years in a variety of leadership positions. She has volunteered in leadership capacities for a variety of other organizations as well, including Augsburg University, Lutheran Services in America and ARRM – the statewide association of community-based service providers for people with disabilities.

Housing support approved as new Medicaid benefit

Minnesota seniors and people with disabilities soon will have more help finding and keeping housing, thanks to new services coming to the state’s Medicaid program next year. On Aug. 1 Minnesota received federal approval of housing stabilization services as a basic Medicaid benefit. The new services will be available to seniors and people with disabilities — including mental illness and substance use disorder — who are homeless, living in institutions, or at risk of becoming homeless or institutionalized. The benefit will start in July 2020. Read more in the department’s news release.

New website geared toward people with hearing loss

A new website launched this month by the Minnesota Department of Human Services provides Information about assistive technology, communications access and other issues related to hearing loss. The site is designed for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, deafblind and late-deafened; people experiencing age-related hearing loss; and people who live with, work with and provide services to people with hearing loss. Read more in the department’s news release.

Employee receives outstanding achievement award

Dr. Erwin Concepcion

Dr. Erwin Concepcion, clinical services director in DHS’s Direct Care and Treatment Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment Services Division, has been honored by the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance for his outstanding contributions to the care of people with traumatic brain injuries. Recognizing his unique expertise in the treatment of brain injuries and co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders – as well as the decades he has spent helping to shape brain injury policy in Minnesota – the organization recently gave Concepcion its prestigious Elinor D. Hands Outstanding Achievement Award.

In social media

people at a farmers market

Facebook, Aug. 19: Did you know? Farmers markets throughout the state connect Minnesotans using SNAP with healthy food options through the Market Bucks program. We recently joined Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan at Four Sisters Farmers Market, a Market Bucks participant, for a demonstration on how to access tokens to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables with SNAP benefits.

Learn more about SNAP: And check out Hunger Solutions' website to find a participating market near you:

To see more posts like this and for timely updates on DHS news and events, follow DHS on Twitter and Facebook.

For accessible formats of this publication or assistance with additional equal access to human services, write to, call 651-431-2911, or use your preferred relay service.

DHS in the community 

five people on the field at the Twins stadium

Twins honor foster parents. Foster parents were honored at a special event prior to the Minnesota vs. Atlanta game in early August. The Twins donated 1,000 tickets to foster families, recognized them in a pre-game ceremony and posted foster care messages and a video on the scoreboard.

Assistant Commissioner Nikki Farrago with a baby

Partnering with Parents in Community Action. Children and Family Services Assistant Commissioner Nikki Farago recently visited Parents in Community Action’s Head Start program in South Minneapolis. For the past year, state child support staff have been visiting PICA’s Head Start and Early Head Start programs to build relationships and educate parents about child support.

state fair logo

Fairgoers get info on Medicare and more. The Minnesota Board on Aging and DHS were at the Minnesota State Fair again this year with helpful information on a wide range of topics, including mental health, Medicare and making Minnesota a more-age friendly state.

In the news

Links to some news articles about DHS during August: