Minnesota’s System of Care Grant for Children’s Mental Health

Congratulations to Minnesota’s Department of Human Services for winning a federal grant of $3M per year for the next four years ($12M total) to expand and sustain our System of Care for Children’s Mental Health!! The opportunities this grant gives to fill gaps and truly serve the children that need mental health services in our state in a comprehensive way, is very exciting!

The 2016 Governor’s Task Force on Mental Health concluded that Minnesota’s mental health system provides a variety of effective services that can assist people in their recovery from mental illness. However, it does not provide a comprehensive continuum of care that promotes wellness, prevents mental illnesses where possible and supports all Minnesotans with mental illnesses to pursue recovery and resiliency in their communities.

The MN DHS Gaps Analysis Study (August, 2015) showed that many health services fell short of the demand. Only 35% of the participants felt the help they received met “all of their needs” with 61% responding it met “some of their needs.” A shockingly large portion – 42% – responded that they need help and they were unable to get it, noting respite care and crisis support, specifically. The baseline data represents 18,129 unique youth identified with severe emotional disturbance involved with DHS for any period during the 2015 fiscal year.

The work funded by the federal grant will connect the services in our state. This will require the state departments of education, health, human services, and corrections, to work with school-based mental health services, community-based mental health services, and home-based services. This connection will create a network of services that put the youth and family at the center, address service gaps, and create uniform expectations of service quality and access statewide. The measurable goals are:

  • Identify children and youth early in the emergence of severe emotional disturbance to provide appropriate service and support that promotes full community integration.
  • Build local and state leadership to coordinate across jurisdictions for data-informed system of care development, policy reform, and financial sustainability.
  • Pilot community-based services in targeted settings across the state.

Grant funded work will focus specifically on identification and early intervention services for children and youth with or at risk of having severe emotional disturbance through the following:

  • Wraparound care coordination
  • Therapeutic respite care
  • Children’s mental health crisis response services
  • Intensive community-based services partnered with education
  • Intensive treatment/school-based supports
  • Intensive community-based services when at risk for residential treatment placement
  • Children’s mental health and trauma screening.

The federal grant officially begins October 1, 2017. The opportunity to create a network of services to address children’s mental health in a coordinated way, that works to keep children in their homes and communities, is arriving in our state at the right time. There is new recognition of the complexity of children’s mental health issues and our state agencies are ready to work across silos to meet the needs of children and families. It will be hard work to try new things and work together to fill the gaps for seamless implementation across the state, but the leadership has the children and families in mind. There are a lot of smart and committed people in our state that will come together to make sure this work is done well. I invite our philanthropic friends that work in children’s mental health to pay attention to this work and be ready to jump in, if needed, to move this work forward. The System of Care in Minnesota will be fully operational in three to five years.

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