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A regional approach to delivery of human services could help the state and a dozen counties save millions of taxpayer dollars – and result in improved access and outcomes for thousands of Minnesotans.
A model for the Southeast Minnesota Redesign Project was unveiled Thursday, March 15, at a briefing of county officials and stakeholders in Rochester. Over the last two years, DHS and 12 southeast Minnesota counties have collaborated to find a cost-effective way to meet human service needs in the region.
The proposed operating and business plans detailed at that briefing showed that by combining efforts, Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca and Winona could see a more than $30 million reduction in costs over the first five years. Including federal and state savings, the redesign would reduce future taxpayer costs by more than $60 million, according to consultant Accenture, which developed the model through a grant from the Bush Foundation.
Residents in counties participating in the Southeast Minnesota Redesign Project would have access to an expanded menu of human services including volunteer coordination and drivers to help utilize services, expanded in-home counseling services for children and families, and homelessness and housing support programs, according to Accenture. The counties would also be able to leverage technology to offer more convenient access through a mix of service delivery centers and a remote workforce.
DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson, who spoke during the meeting at the Mayo Civic Center, commended the counties for working together at a time when government budgets are tight, but demand for services is great due to economic and demographic changes.
Jesson said she was intrigued by the proposed structure for the regional service delivery authority (SDA). Legislation approved in 2009 gave county governments the authority to collaborate on service delivery, and for SDAs to be granted waivers from state regulations to achieve better results.
“If the counties decide to form an SDA – which I encourage them to do – I look forward to discussing how the state can agree to waivers and other methods to streamline human service delivery,” Jesson said.
For more information, see an overview of the proposed operating model presented by Accenture (PDF) available on the Olmsted County website.