Human services face challenges across Minnesota


Minnesota’s human services system has challenges and performance problems that are not being adequately addressed by the state or counties.

That was among the messages shared with the House Health and Human Services Committee, which took no action. The findings are in a January 2007 report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor.

Committee chairman Paul Thissen (DFL-Mpls) expressed hope that the report can be a beginning point in trying to develop solutions for some of the problems.

Among the concerns are that human services access, cost and outcomes vary significantly around the state. For example, some county child support enforcement programs are more cost–effective than others; as evidenced by the ratio of child support dollars collected per dollar spent ranging from $1.70 to $9.35. Other issues include law complexity making administrative requirements more burdensome, lack of multi-county agencies to improve cost-effectiveness and state funding for human services contributing to inconsistencies in local tax burdens and services.

Report recommendations include: potential changes in human services funding policy, additional authority for the Department of Human Services to act when counties do not meet benchmarks and the Legislature should more strongly encourage smaller counties to jointly administer programs.

A full state takeover of human services programs is undesirable, but Deborah Parker Junod, a co-report manager, said some county officials indicated that adoption services, child support enforcement and long-term care eligibility might be better handled at a state level.

Rep. Diane Loeffler (DFL-Mpls) is heading a working group to focus on how the Legislature can improve.

It is one of three working groups within the committee. Rep. Patti Fritz (DFL-Faribault) heads a nursing home working group and Rep. Mary Murphy (DFL-Hermantown) is heading a working group on pharmacy reimbursements.