News from DHS for October 2021

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News from DHS archive

In this issue:

Virtual event highlights need for adoptive parents

Circus of the Heart 2021

More than 600 Minnesota foster children who cannot be reunified with their families are waiting to go home to another permanent family. Most needed are families for adolescents and sibling groups.

A week of virtual events starting Monday, Nov. 1, will focus on the children who need permanent families, as well as the 965 children adopted from state guardianship last year. Minnesota’s 24th annual “Celebrate Adoption: Circus of the Heart” event honors families who adopted foster children in the past year and provides information about adoption.

“Every child needs a safe, nurturing, permanent family,” said Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead. “Last year’s virtual Circus of the Heart reached more people than ever, and we are hoping to exceed that this year. We always need more families to welcome children into their families forever.”

The virtual activities from Nov. 1 to 7 will include a family dance party, art contest, scavenger hunt, cooking challenge, performing arts presentation, prizes, trivia game, award presentations, and videos from experts and an adoptive family.

Adoptive families and those interested in learning more about adopting children from the foster care system are encouraged to participate by following MN Adopt's Facebook page.

More information is in the department's news release.

2021 legislative wins for children and families

Harpstead and Flanagan legislative wins 2021

Commissioner Jodi Harpstead joined Governor Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan recently to highlight 2021 legislative wins for children and families, including increased funding for child care providers and participants in the Minnesota Family Investment Program.

Pay increase and benefits to help address PCA workforce shortage

Personal care assistant (PCA) workers in Minnesota will see higher wages and other new benefits this month. The statewide minimum wage for PCAs rises from $13.25 to $14.40 per hour effective Oct. 1, then increases again to $15.25 on July 1, 2022.

“The more than 40,000 PCAs working in our state are a lifeline for people with disabilities and essential for them to live active lives in their communities,” said Assistant Commissioner Gertrude Matemba-Mutasa. “We hope improved pay and benefits can help draw more talented people into this critical profession.”

PCAs perform essential work, helping people with disabilities with daily activities such as eating, bathing, dressing, grooming, going to the restroom, and getting around. In some cases, they prepare meals, do light housekeeping, administer medications, help people find jobs, manage challenging behaviors, and provide support with assistive technology.

More details are in the Governor's Office news release.

In social media

Dr. Nathan Chomilo preferred photo

Posted Oct. 16 on the DHS Facebook page: Congratulations to Medicaid Medical Director Dr. Nathan Chomilo, who was recently honored for his work to improve health outcomes and health equity for Minnesotans. He received the President’s Award from the Minnesota Medical Association at their 2021 annual meeting, which was held virtually. The award is designated for individuals who have made outstanding contributions toward making Minnesotans the healthiest in the nations and making Minnesota the best place to practice. The award presentation and Dr. Chomilo’s acceptance speech are available online.

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

Presentation on Afghan culture

Join us from 1-2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2, for an overview of Afghan culture and best practices for workforce providers.

The DHS Refugee Resettlement Office is hosting the presentation, which will be led by Naweed Ahmadzai, the human resource engagement coordinator for Hennepin County. He is an Afghan American who grew up in Kabul, Afghanistan, and came to the U.S. in 2009 as a political asylee. Naweed speaks from personal experience with insight for those working with and supporting newly arriving Afghan evacuees coming to Minnesota.

Join via Webex or dial 1-415-655-0003 and use meeting number (access code) 2489 944 6226.

See our announcement for more details.

newspaper beside a coffee cup

In the news

State leaders work towards dental health care equity. Minnesota is making dental care more equitable for low-income families. State lawmakers and the Department of Human Services have worked to make sure enough providers can give low-income people faster and better dental service. A recent story that aired on KTTC in Rochester includes an interview with Commissioner Jodi Harpstead about historic rate increases coming soon.

Some Minnesotans with disabilities earn less than minimum wage; meet the advocates working to change that. Minnesota is taking steps to join several other states that have repealed federal legislation dating back to 1938 that allows people with disabilities to be paid subminimum wages. Disability activists like Brittanie Wilson, of St. Paul, say it's a long time coming. Learn more in a recent KARE 11 story.

The 44-day journey that changed Muhammad Nishat’s life. Until August, Muhammad Nishat performed humanitarian work in his home country of Afghanistan. Now, he lives with his wife and eight kids in a Twin Cities hotel room. In the coming weeks and months, state agencies, nonprofits, and volunteers will help 500 Afghans like Nishat start over in Minnesota. Learn more in a recent Sahan Journal story, which also features an interview with State Refugee Coordinator Rachele King.

DHS fact sheets updated

Adoption: Finding families for Minnesota’s waiting children (PDF)

Adoption support contract: Working together to help families (PDF)

Relative Permanency Services: Reducing time in foster care (PDF)

Accessible formats

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.