News from DHS for October 2022

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In this issue:

Community-led initiatives nurture maternal health in American Indian and African American communities

Maternal health panel with Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, Commissioner Harpstead, Deputy Commissioner Farago and  partners

A roundtable discussion Friday, Oct. 7, at the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center spotlighted vital work to support healthy pregnancies and improve birth outcomes in American Indian and African American communities. Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead and Deputy Commissioner Nikki Farago listened to community leaders and families talk about their experiences and challenges.

With financial support from the state through the Integrated Care for High Risk Pregnancies program, community-led care collaboratives are promoting integrated care and enhanced services for pregnant people at risk for adverse birth outcomes. The collaboratives strengthen partnerships between pregnant and parenting people, community organizations, clinics, community health workers and doulas.

The goal is to decrease some of the nation’s worst racial disparities in birth outcomes through direct support of American Indian and African American communities in Minnesota. The integrated care approach reduces risks during pregnancy, improves care for American Indian and African American pregnant people and their partners, and results in better birth outcomes.

“The crisis we are facing in maternal health across both our state and country – particularly for Black and Indigenous parents and babies – is unacceptable,” Flanagan said. “That’s why our administration has prioritized investments that protect and promote the health and safety of babies, moms and new families. As a Native mom, I’m proud of this work to improve outcomes for high-risk pregnancies so that every new family gets their best possible start.”

Harpstead noted, “This program is an important way for us to improve racial health equity in Minnesota. We worked with communities to create this model, and the communities are leading the work. It’s inspiring to hear firsthand about the difference this approach is making.”

Learn more in a department news release.

Help Me Connect promotional materials available for partners

Help Me Connect logo with letters spelled out with alphabet blocks

Print and video resources are now available for partners and providers to spread the word about Help Me Connect, a tool for navigating resources for Minnesota families.

Help Me Connect launched in 2021 to connect expecting and parenting families with young children to resources that support healthy child development and family well-being. The website includes information on basic needs, legal services, American Indian families, health and wellness support and more.

Marketing materials include a flyer, rack card, poster and nine-minute waiting room video. Materials are available in English, Spanish, Somali, Hmong and Karen.

Divisions across DHS continue to develop Help Me Connect in partnership with the Minnesota departments of Education and Health, along with the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet. It is one of several activities funded by the federal Preschool Development Grant from the U.S. Department Health and Human Services designed to remove barriers so families with young children can access life-changing early childhood programs.

Since launching in May 2021, the Help Me Connect website has had over 110,000 unique visitors.

In social media

Photo of DHS leaders visiting a Minnesota family child care provider

DHS Assistant Commissioner Tikki Brown (left) and Deputy Assistant Commissioner Bharti Wahi (center) had fun playing with the children at Rutha Kyi Family Child Care last month. They also had important discussions with Rutha (right) about the barriers her business faces and resources to help the child care industry.

Rutha’s four-star-rated Parent Aware program opened in 2013 with the help of Think Small. Now, Rutha is one of the few providers who speak Karen and provide care during nontraditional hours.

Thank you for sharing your insight, Rutha! 

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Follow our DHS Careers Facebook page for announcements of hiring events, job postings, internships and more.

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New managed care contracts will serve 600,000

This month, the Minnesota Department of Human Services finalized managed care contracts for families and children in 80 Greater Minnesota counties and for older adults and adults with disabilities statewide. 

The new contracts for public health care programs will serve approximately 600,000 Minnesotans, beginning Jan. 1, 2023. 

The following managed care plans will have contracts in at least one county: Blue Plus, HealthPartners, Hennepin Health, Itasca Medical Care, Medica, PrimeWest Health, South Country Health Alliance, UCare and United Healthcare Community Plan of Minnesota. 

“Hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans will receive quality health care because we all focused on achieving results for all enrollees,” said Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead.

No enrollees will lose coverage, covered services or access to their prescription drugs due to these contract changes. The majority of enrollees will have choices in their health plan options. 

Learn more in a department news release.

Ombudsman volunteers needed for long-term care

Hands stock image

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Minnesota’s Office of Ombudsman for Long-Term Care had 33 Certified Ombudsman Volunteers statewide. Fast forward to the fall of 2022, and there are only 14 volunteer Ombudsmen serving nearly 2,500 nursing care and assisted living facilities across Minnesota.

Addressing the Ombudsman volunteer shortage is one focus of Residents’ Rights Month during October. A major part of a Certified Ombudsman Volunteer’s role is educating residents, families and long-term care staff on residents’ rights. There are currently 14 regions in the state without even one Certified Ombudsman Volunteer.

“Just as nursing homes are struggling to recruit and retain staff, we face the same challenge with volunteers,” said Cheryl Hennen, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman for Minnesota. “Volunteers are a critical part of our team, advocating for people living in long-term care facilities to enhance their quality of life and services.”

Learn more in a news release from the Ombudsman's Office.

newspaper beside a coffee cup

In the news

Report: Don't Stop Now in Providing Expanded Telehealth: In Minnesota and nationally, the medical community is highlighting research measuring the effect of expanded telehealth during the pandemic, and the conversation is shifting toward what to do next. Learn more in a Public News Service article.

Refugee arrivals to Minnesota could quadruple this year: The United States can resettle 125,000 people this fiscal year. Last year, it used less than a fifth of its slots. State refugee coordinator Rachele King spoke on MPR's All Things Considered about Minnesota's readiness to accept refugees.

Subminimum wage reform is eyed: Moving people with disabilities out of subminimum wage work and into better-paying jobs is the goal of a $10.5 million initiative recently announced. An Access Press article notes that opinions on the move away from subminimum wages across the country are mixed.

DHS fact sheets updated

History of the Minnesota Family Investment Program (PDF)

Safety-net supports: Basic questions and answers (PDF)

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training program (PDF)