Getting to know PHHS and the services it deliversPublic Health and Human Services of St. Louis County strives to provide mission-critical, mandated and voluntary services in such a way as to maintain the human dignity and confidentiality of the people it serves.
By: Ann Busche, Budgeteer News
The last time I wrote, I said I was going to do a series of articles to help you get to know your Public Health and Human Services Department. That first article was a broad overview of the department’s services and the geography and people we serve. Here’s the next in the series, with a focus on how we do our work:
Minnesota has a state-directed, county-administered system. What this means is that the state defines the services that will be provided to the residents of the state and, through rule and statute, tells its county partners specifically how to deliver that service. In fact, 98 percent of our budget is for work that we do on behalf of the state of Minnesota. The remaining 2 percent is for voluntary services that we value because of their focus on prevention.
With limited resources to deliver services, we have defined our services as mission-critical, mandated and voluntary — this helps us plan and prioritize our resources.
The department has identified mission critical services as those which must be provided even during a time of seriously limited financial and/or human resources. Mission-critical services are:
• Protecting vulnerable children and adults from abuse and neglect.
• Providing for the basic safety net: ensure availability of food, shelter and medical care.
• Helping disabled/disadvantaged populations to become self-sufficient and independent.
• Ensuring that communities stay healthy through disease prevention and control.
We believe the public does have, and should have, an expectation that these basic health and safety services be provided to 1) those who are not able to care for their own health and safety, either because they are children or because they are adults but unable due to their physical, economic or cognitive condition, or 2) the community because it is a matter of public health. These services are our priority.
Mandated services are those services that the state — again, through statute — directs us to provide, either through providing the service with county staff or ensuring it is done through contracts with the private sector. A few examples of mandated services include fraud prevention and intervention; child support; licensing of foster care homes and day care homes; and public health preparedness.
The last category is voluntary services. These are services which are preventive in nature and save tax dollars downstream. One example are family outreach services, where we offer services to prevent child abuse and neglect or we help families to develop the skills they need to manage their child or teen’s behaviors and issues.
By delivering these voluntary services to families, we can give them the tools they need to remain a family, and we prevent the need for a child to be removed from the home due to abuse or neglect.
Not only is this good for the family, but it saves county dollars in out-of-home placement costs, which are funded 100 percent by local property taxes. Although the state provides the statutes, rules and technical aspects of how we do our work, we strive to provide services in a way that is efficient and effective, recognizing that it takes great courage for citizens to ask government for help.
We strive to provide these mission-critical, mandated and voluntary services in such a way as to maintain the human dignity and confidentiality of the people we serve.
Writer Ann Busche is the director of the St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services department. Contact her at 726-2096 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.