News from DHS for October 2023

Minnesota Department of Human Services logo


October 2023

News from DHS archive

In this issue:

Tribal Nation and human services organizations honored for innovative ways they serve Minnesotans

Circle of Excellence Awards logo

DHS is honoring the dedication and innovative work of 10 partners that support Minnesotans to achieve their highest potential.

The winners of this year’s Commissioner’s Circle of Excellence Awards provide essential services to refugees, Indigenous youth and elders, families with children, people who have public health insurance and people who are starting their recovery journeys. Innovations include offering Indigenous food options and caring for pets so their owners can enter substance use disorder treatment.

“Each year, we lift up partners who are making real progress toward an equitable Minnesota where all people can achieve their highest potential,” Commissioner Jodi Harpstead said. “We are so proud of all the ways this year’s award winners are applying community knowledge and innovative ideas to solve persistent problems. Their work has a remarkable impact on our state.”

The annual human services awards honor outstanding initiatives and innovations that address critical needs in Minnesota’s communities and help strengthen equity in the human services system. This is the twelfth year of the awards, which DHS started in 2012.

A list of award winners is in a department news release. Photos from award presentation events are being posted on the department's Facebook and X (Twitter) pages as they occur.

Annual event celebrates adoption while highlighting need for more adoptive parents

Circus of the Heart 2023

Minnesota families who adopted children from foster care in the past year and those considering adopting foster children will have a chance to celebrate and learn more at an upcoming free event.

The 26th annual “Celebrate Adoption: Circus of the Heart” event will take place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4, at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

Attractions in the fair’s North End Events Center will include arcade games, crafts, prizes, music, mascots, clay art, henna art, face painting, outdoor activities and photo opportunities. Parking is free.

Adoption experts will also be available to answer questions about adoption from foster care.

“Children need stable, nurturing families,” Commissioner Jodi Harpstead said. “When foster children can’t return home for one reason or another, we work with our partners to find permanent families who can best meet children’s cultural, emotional, mental health and physical health needs, particularly for older children and sibling groups. Adoption can have a meaningful and profound impact on the lives of all involved.”

The event is sponsored by DHS, Foster Adopt Minnesota and other partners.

More information is in a department news release.

Minnesota ends Medical Assistance fees paid by many parents of children with disabilities

Many parents of children with disabilities no longer have to pay fees for their children’s Medical Assistance health insurance.

DHS has stopped requiring parents to pay monthly fees for children with disabilities who get their Medical Assistance coverage through the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act option, known as TEFRA, or through assessments for Home and Community Based Services.

Earlier this year, the Minnesota Legislature and Governor Tim Walz approved legislation to eliminate parental fees for children covered through the TEFRA option and Home and Community Based Services. The change took effect in July.

“This is great news for Minnesota families,” said Commissioner Jodi Harpstead. “It’s a positive example of the state coming together to look out for the parents of people with disabilities.”

More information is in a department news release.

Minnesota honors refugees for their contributions

Minnesota celebrates the courage, resilience and entrepreneurship of refugees, who make the state a better place to live.

DHS' Outstanding Refugee Awards for 2022 and 2023 were presented to 10 individuals during a Tuesday, Oct. 24 ceremony at the Minnesota History Center.

“Refugees who come to the United States to make a good life for themselves and their families have known great hardship and great hope,” said Commissioner Jodi Harpstead. “It gives me great joy to recognize the achievements of refugees who have done so much to make Minnesota a better place.”

People with refugee status leave their home countries because their governments are unable or unwilling to protect them when their lives are in danger from persecution because of race, religion, nationality, social group or political opinions.  

The Outstanding Refugee Awards include four categories: Civic Leadership, Entrepreneurship, New Arrival and Young Leader. Award recipients are listed in the department news release.

In social media: Don't ghost us!

Renewals Don't ghost us social media

After you're home from trick-or-treating, everyone's eaten too much candy and the little ghouls are put to bed, take a moment to check when your health care renewal is due.

It's important to return your paperwork so we can verify your eligibility to maintain your Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare coverage.

👻 Find out more at
👻 Look up your renewal date at You will need your member number and eight-digit case number. (If your case number is fewer than eight digits, add zeroes at the beginning to make a total of eight.)

>> Follow DHS on X/Twitter and Facebook for timely updates on DHS news and events.

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

Accessible formats

For accessible formats of this publication, write to, or call 651-431-2000 or use your preferred relay service.

Governor Walz announces increased payments for child care

Governor Tim Walz announced Oct. 31 that increased payment rates for child care assistance take effect this week, as Minnesota continues to move toward making child care accessible to more families.

"Affordable and accessible child care is essential to creating opportunity and economic growth across the state,” said Governor Walz. “We’re raising child care assistance rates to support providers and improve access for more families. This is an investment in our workforce, economy, and the well-being of families.”

Higher reimbursement rates will bring state payments closer to market rates for child care providers serving over 11,000 families, including 23,000 children, through the Child Care Assistance Program. The increase will help stabilize providers’ finances and improve access to affordable child care for families.

Governor Walz and the Legislature approved the new child care assistance rates earlier this year, including $146 million in funding over the next two years. The change was part of a $1.3 billion child care package that also included payments to improve compensation for child care providers and funding to reduce wait lists for another type of child care assistance known as Basic Sliding Fee.

The Child Care Assistance Program provides financial assistance for child care to families with low incomes. When rates are low, child care providers are less likely to serve families in the program and access to child care suffers in an already tight market. Low rates also make it harder for providers who participate in the program to cover their costs.

Learn more in a Governor's Office news release.

Important update for parents and spouses providing PCA services

The temporary six-month extension of personal care assistant (PCA) pay for certain family members ends Nov. 11, 2023.

Parents of minors (including stepparents and legal guardians) and spouses will no longer be allowed to be paid to provide PCA program services.

It's important to make alternate arrangements for PCA workers before Nov. 11. This applies to parents of minors and spouses providing PCA services to:

◼ Seniors and people with disabilities enrolled in Medical Assistance (MA), whether fee-for-service or through a health plan
◼ People who are pregnant or age 18 or younger enrolled in MinnesotaCare
◼ People on home and community-based waiver programs.

Contact the family member’s PCA agency or county/Tribal case manager to transition service workers or ask questions.

Visit our website to learn more about PCA servicesm at

Fact sheets updated

Diversionary Work Program: Emphasizing employment (PDF)

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (PDF) 

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (PDF)

newspaper beside a coffee cup

In the news

Minnesota restoring Medicaid coverage for 12,745 state residents: Minnesota is restoring health insurance coverage for 12,745 residents, including many children. The federal government last month called for Minnesota and 28 other states to make changes to an auto-renewal process used for evaluating eligibility. Commissioner Jodi Harpstead told the Star Tribune the state has implemented fixes to prevent a recurrence of the problem going forward.

Adoption event set for this week at Minnesota State Fairgrounds: Assistant Commissioner Tikki Brown spoke with WCCO Radio recently about the Celebrate Adoption: Circus of the Heart event on Nov. 4 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

Minnesota set to start spending $316M to boost child care wages: Child care providers across Minnesota can apply for monthly payments to help increase worker wages. The Great Start Compensation Support Program began as pandemic relief for child care workers to help sustain their businesses so families could continue to access child care. Now, that funding is permanent to help get child care workers closer to a livable wage. Assistant Commissioner Tikki Brown told MPR the application was designed to be simple to get money out as quickly as possible to providers “because we know they need it.”

Public Policy This Week – Issues in Long Term CareKYMN radio (Northfield) recently talked with Assistant Commissioner  Natasha Merz about the current challenges faced by long term care facilities, including staffing and funding.

Department of Human Services hosts community conversation on autism in Bemidji area: Working in the field of autism for 20 years, Nicole Berning has seen firsthand the barriers that many families, caregivers and child care providers have faced to access disability services in rural areas. As part of her role as the autism clinical lead at DHS, connecting with communities is an important part of putting a face to leadership at the state level and effecting change in policy. Learn more in a Bemidji Pioneer article.