News and updates on the DHS efforts to assist Minnesota’s families and children.
May is National Foster Care Month. In 2013, more than 8,000 families opened their homes to Minnesota’s waiting children, and 80 percent of children who left out-of-home care were reunited with their birth parents, primary caregivers or other relatives; an important step in the department’s efforts to place children who enter foster care with their relatives. More information can be found in a fact sheet about foster care (PDF).
Minnesota was one of eight states selected to participate in the National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices Policy Summit on Success Beyond 18. Helping older foster youth successfully transition into adulthood and improving extended foster care policies and services are priorities for the department and were the purpose of the summit. More information about NGA and the summit is online.
The North American Council on Adoptable Children honored Commissioner Lucinda Jesson with its Voices from the Heart Award for the important part the Minnesota Department of Human Services played in the recent passage of the Northstar Care for Children law. Jesson was honored at the council's 10th anniversary celebration Nov. 9 in West St. Paul. More information is in a story about the award.
DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson recently visited a family child care home in Sartell to celebrate more than 1,000 quality early education programs participating in the Parent Aware program, and one of the most recent child care providers, Amanda Rupar’s Family Child Care, to earn a four-star Parent Aware rating. Currently available in 22 counties and on seven reservations, Parent Aware will expand to 23 new counties and one reservation next year, and reach statewide in 2015. More information is in a news release on the commissioner’s visit and the Parent Aware program.
DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson toured the nonprofit Full Cycle Bike Shop in Minneapolis in November after a recent $125,000 grant award to expand its services, as part of an investment by Gov. Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature in the state’s homeless youth population. Full Cycle Bike Shop is a youth-run, nonprofit bicycle shop that addresses homelessness by connecting youth with training, employment experience and support services to help them achieve independence and stability. This visit is one of regular visits the commissioner makes to community partners who provide services to department clients. More information is in a news release on the commissioner’s tour and the grant.
An overview of current efforts to improve professional development opportunities in the state are contained in The Minnesota Office of Early Learning's 2012 Great Workforce Annual Report. The report, recently produced by the Minnesota departments of Health, Education and Human Services, highlights more than 25 different efforts to better support the individuals and organizations that provide early care and education for Minnesota’s young children.
Applicants for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) should be aware there is never a fee for applying for benefits, and to be on the lookout for online ads or suspicious emails falsely offering help filling out applications. The goal of such scams is to collect personal information from potential SNAP recipients, including credit card information. The federal agency that manages SNAP reports that there have recently been scams in which applicants are asked to provide cell phone numbers and are then automatically enrolled into an expensive service without warning. A “scam alert” provides regular updates about these illegal schemes and how to get assistance if an applicant has already fallen victim.