News from DHS for September 2021

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In this issue:

MinnesotaCare coverage to cost less through 2022

Approximately 100,000 Minnesotans will save up to $52 a month on their MinnesotaCare premiums through the end of 2022.

The premium relief benefits low-income workers who have experienced some of the most severe economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The reductions stem from the federal American Rescue Plan Act and were approved this year by the Minnesota Legislature and Governor Tim Walz. MinnesotaCare covers people who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford other health insurance.

Until January 2023, people with incomes under 160% of the federal poverty level of won’t have to pay premiums for MinnesotaCare. People whose incomes fall between 160% and 200% of the federal poverty level will pay reduced premiums.

“Every little bit helps,” Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead said. “The pandemic has made it harder for people to keep up with their health care bills, along with all the other bills. Making MinnesotaCare more affordable leaves more money in their pockets to care for themselves and families.”

Read more in the department's Sept. 23 news release.

$300 million program to support child care providers, improve child care access for families

Child care stock image 2

Minnesota child care providers have begun applying for monthly direct payments to stabilize their businesses, as part of a $300 million state grant program that will last through June 2023.

“Minnesota’s economy depends on the availability of child care,” said Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead. “By stabilizing the child care industry and putting more money in child care workers’ pockets, these grants support a critical sector of our workforce.”

Another key change starts in November, when the state will raise reimbursement rates for the Child Care Assistance Program. The program currently serves more than 30,000 children each month. Additional stimulus fund investments totaling $55 million are estimated to reach 4,000 more children during the next three years.

Read more in the Governor's Office Sept. 22 news release.

Saluting those who serve people with disabilities

National Direct Support Professional Recognition Week (Sept. 12 to 18) honors the support staff, direct care workers, personal care assistants and other direct support professionals who improve the lives of people with disabilities. 

Direct support professionals perform essential work, helping people with personal care and daily activities such as eating, bathing, dressing, grooming, going to the toilet and getting around. They also prepare meals, do light housekeeping, administer medications, help people find jobs, manage challenging behaviors and support people to use assistive technology.

“Their important work doesn’t get the recognition it deserves,” said Gertrude Matemba-Mutasa, assistant commissioner for the Community Supports Administration. “They are absolutely critical to the daily care of many thousands of Minnesotans.”

With Minnesota facing a shortage of direct support professionals, demand for workers is high. Direct support experience can lead to other careers, including in education, accessible technology development, human services, construction and building design, and communications. 

For more information about this type of work, visit the Direct Support Connect job board at

In social media

DSP Week 2021

In honor of Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week from Sept. 12 to 18, we asked a few of our own employees who are former DSPs what they learned doing this important work and how it impacted their careers.

Eliud Korir worked as a DSP in a number of group homes supporting adults who needed assistance with activities of daily living, either due to physical challenges or mental health issues.

DSP experience provides a good foundation toward many health care career fields, Korir said. "I never thought I would be a nurse until I started working as a direct support professional." In addition, he said, "being a direct support professional is more than just having a job. It teaches you how to be person-centered, how to be patient, how to care, how to be compassionate, and how to interact appropriately with people."

If you are interested in this type of work, visit the Direct Support Connect job board at

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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.

Governor’s Council on Economic Expansion

Commissioner Harpstead and Walz Economic Council

Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead is among the state leaders who will work closely with the new Governor's Council on Economic Expansion. 

The Council brings together 15 labor, business, philanthropic, and non-profit leaders from across the state to provide recommendations on expanding Minnesota’s economy.

“The COVID-19 pandemic led us to rethink how our economy can work to support all Minnesotans,” Harpstead said. “This is a unique opportunity to work across public, private, and non-profit sectors to improve shared economic prosperity and emerge stronger than ever.”

More information is in a Governor's Office Sept. 14 news release.

Welcoming Afghan evacuees

The Minnesota Department of Human Services Resettlement Program is working closely with local agencies funded by the federal government to implement the Afghan Placement Assistance (APA) program, and has developed a task force with representatives from counties and other state agencies and councils on a community preparation response.

Find out how you can help at

"Reinvention" webinar is Oct. 7

Registration for the Age & Disabilities Odyssey webinar on "Reinvention" - exploring the ways service systems were reinvented to overcome the challenges brought by the pandemic - closes at 4 p.m. Oct. 4. The webinar will be held Thursday, Oct. 7, from 9 a.m. to noon. Learn more and register at

newspaper beside a coffee cup

In the news

Self-empowerment Through Peer Recovery Support. People in long-term recovery know the drill. They have been down. They got up. And they’re staying up. With some training and supervision, they can share their experience, understanding and reassurance with others who are recovering from substance use disorder. Read about peer recovery support in an article by Paul Fleissner, DHS Behavioral Health Division director, in this month’s Phoenix Spirit.

Foster youth affected by pandemic eligible for financial assistance. The pandemic has been hard on all of us, but there are some struggling more than others. Many of them are young adults who’ve been in the foster care system. Now they’re on their own, trying to make ends meet. Learn about assistance available to some former foster youth in a WCCO story.

Study: MSU students decreased alcohol use since 2015. Through an array of strategies designed to reduce substance abuse among students, Minnesota State University was one of five colleges in the state to significantly reduce underage alcohol use the last half-decade as part of a grant program. Read more in a Mankato Free Press article.

'So many are coming with just the clothes on their backs': 2 Minnesota nonprofits team up to help Afghan refugees resettle. "We want to make sure they have beds, pillows, clothing, cooking utensils. Everything they would need to just feel like this is a place they could call home," said Kate Shermer, with Arrive Ministries, one of the state's refugee resettlement organizations. Learn more in a KSTP story.