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Minnesota Legislature

Bill would make state eligible for child protection, mental health federal funds

The Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 changed federal reimbursement rules for state-run programs providing child protection and mental health services.

Rep. Mohamud Noor (DFL-Mpls) sponsors HF3812 that would change state law to put Minnesota in compliance with that federal act, and thus make the state eligible to receive grants funded by the legislation.

The House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Division approved the bill, as amended, Wednesday and sent it to the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee. Sen. Jerry Relph (R-St. Cloud) sponsors the companion, SF4106, which awaits action by the Senate Human Services Reform Finance and Policy Committee.

When the federal act passed, it started a countdown clock for states to make conforming changes, said Deputy Human Services Commissioner Lisa Bayley. That date is Sept. 30, 2021, and Bayley said her department is confident it can make necessary program changes by that time.

The bill would establish a Qualified Residential Treatment Program level of care in the state, which would allow qualifying organizations to be eligible for funds available through the federal act.

Other provisions would allow any minor living separate and apart from a parent or legal guardian to give consent to receive homeless youth and sexually exploited youth services, Noor said.

Currently, homeless youth service providers are legally prevented from providing their services without obtaining parental consent, Noor said, adding the proposed changes would not affect a parent or legal guardian’s custody rights.

Noor originally brought the bill to the judiciary division on March 10, but it was tabled after representatives from the National Alliance on Mental Illness - Minnesota and AspireMN, an advocacy group for children, youth and families, raised concerns the bill could lead to negative financial consequences to children, youth and families seeking residential mental health care.

Noor said the delete-all amendment adopted Wednesday was developed in consultation with both groups. He said a provision in the amended bill would direct the Department of Human Services to confer with NAMI-MN, AspireMN and other stakeholders to prepare a report to the Legislature making recommendations on ways to prevent those negative financial consequences. The report would be due Jan. 15, 2021.

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