Court rules some social services should be funded during the shutdown


On Wednesday, Judge Kathleen Gearin accepted recommendations from Special Master Kathleen Blatz that a number of social services be funded during the state government shutdown. Here is a rundown of Wednesday’s rulings.

Child care. Judge Gearin originally ruled that only federally-funded child care assistance should continue during the state government shutdown. On Wednesday, she amended the order to include all child care assistance, including Basic Sliding Fee child care assistance, because it is “a functional impossibility” to separate federal and state funding for these services (see pages 8 to 10 of the order). Although this is positive news for many Minnesota families, Judge Gearin did deny funding for migrant child care and migrant day care because funding for these services is separate.

Employment support services. Judge Gearin clarified that employment support services for participants in the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) and Diversionary Work Program (DWP) should be funded because job skills training and job-search assistance are an essential component of MFIP as a “welfare to work” program (see pages 5 to 6).

Food assistance. Judge Gearin clarified that while the Minnesota Food Assistance Program has explicitly been funded since the initial order, other food support programs should also be listed as critical core functions, including food shelf grants, senior nutrition programs and home-delivered nutrition services (see page 7 for a complete list of grants).

Child protection and adoption. Judge Gearin clarified that funding for a number of child protection and adoption assistance services should continue during a state government shutdown (see pages 10 to 12 for a complete list of grants). However, the court denied funding for parent support outreach grants, saying  “while the services and programs provided by these grants are very important to the long-term prevention of child abuse and neglect,” they are not an immediate critical core function.

Homeless programs and transitional housing. Judge Gearin clarified that grants that “involve the provision of shelters, transitional housing, and support services to homeless individuals and families, including homeless youth,” should be funded during the shutdown (see page 13 for a complete list of grants). In a separate order issued last Thursday, Judge Gearin ruled that other housing access services for individuals eligible for Medical Assistance home care or Medicaid waiver services should not be funded during the shutdown.

Services for refugees. Judge Gearin clarified that administrative grants needed to provide cash assistance for refugees should be funded, as should medical assistance for refugees. However, Judge Gearin denied funding for the Refugee Social Services grant, which provides employment support and English-language assistance (see pages 14 to 16).

Services for seniors. Judge Gearin clarified that grants providing seniors with nursing services, transportation, caregiver/respite services, home health aide visits and home-delivered meals should be funded during the shutdown (see page 16).

Deaf and hard of hearing services. Judge Gearin clarified that grants that provide services and equipment to deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing Minnesotans should be funded, as should services that help parents learn to communicate with their deaf or hard of hearing children (see page 17).

HIV/AIDS medical services. Judge Gearin clarified that funding for medical and case management services for citizens with HIV/AIDS should be funded during a shutdown (see pages 17 to 18).

Mental health grants. Judge Gearin clarified that providing services to individuals with serious and persistent mental illness should continue to be funded during the shutdown, noting that a coverage gap would affect their health (see pages 18 to 19 for a complete list of grants).

Chemical dependency treatment. Judge Gearin clarified that treatment services for individuals suffering from chemical dependency should be funded during the shutdown (see pages 20 to 21 for a complete list of grants). In a separate order issued on Monday, Judge Gearin ruled that other programs that help those recovering after receiving chemical dependency treatment, “may be critical to the long-term health and sobriety of participants,” but should not be funded during the shutdown.

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