MRCI is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Mankato. Our mission is to create innovative and genuine opportunities for people with disabilities or disadvantages at home, at work and in the community.
In 2023, we will celebrate 70 years in business, which inspires us to reflect on where we came from and how we’ve evolved. Currently we offer community-based day services, employment services, and virtual day services. We also have client-directed services, which allows families to self-direct their own care under 10 different programs and five different waivers. These are incredible services, but they’re not how MRCI got its start.
Our mission has always revolved around human services, but it’s evolved over our 70 years in operation to meet the needs of the people we serve. MRCI was formed in 1953, shortly after the Korean War ended. The original mission was to help disabled war veterans adjust to life post-war. This work was incredibly important and filled a need within the community. It wasn’t long before we realized additional needs in the community – support for mental health and occupational therapy.
In the 1960s, we introduced the Day Training and Habilitation Program. This provided an opportunity for in-house services for those with developmental disabilities. We also began center-based employment programs, working alongside community partners. The Mankato MRCI Thrift shop was opened as a source of fundraising to support programs and create jobs for our clients.
The 1970s included the introduction of MRCIs daycare, “Open Arms”, which was later transitioned to the school district. Plans were drafted to build a new facility in Mankato, complete with computerization!
In the 1980s, MRCI established offices in Fairmont, New Ulm, Burnsville and Chaska. We also introduced a “Welfare to Work” program and a program performance evaluation to ensure the expectations of the people we served were being met.
The 1990s were huge for community recognition of MRCI. In 1993, the Minnesota Association of Rehabilitation Facilities awarded MRCI with the “Outstanding Rehabilitation Facility Award”. Then, in 1997, the Mankato Area Chamber of Commerce inducted MRCI into the Mankato Area Business Hall of Fame.
In 1998, the Self-Determination grant swept the country and MRCI was the first provider to establish a pilot project with Dakota, Blue Earth, and Olmsted Counties to provide Employer of Record (EOR) and Fiscal Intermediary (FI) services, thus the start of Client Directed Services.
The early 2000s brought immense infrastructure improvements for MRCI. An office opened in Rosemount and another building was constructed in Mankato. By 2004, our Client Directed Services division grew to more than 450 enrolled.
In the 2010s, MRCI developed a candy company to create jobs for our clients. MRCI also saw a need for helping clients transition from school or home into a work environment, so the ‘Bridge to the Future’ and ‘Track to Success’ programs were launched.
MRCI’s Client Directed Services experienced continued growth to provide EOR (including PCA Choice), FI services, and Fiscal Support Entity (FSE) services (Agency with Choice, Fiscal/Employer Agent and Fiscal Conduit). In 2019, MRCI made the strategic decision to transition to community-based services to align with state and federal priorities.
Buildings were closed and work crews were eliminated, but we were able to help clients obtain and keep better-paying jobs in the community.
The Covid-19 Pandemic brought an abrupt halt to MRCI’s day-to-day operations. The strategic decision was made to transition the entire organization to be community based, in alignment with state and federal priorities for our industry. This meant closing facilities and eliminating work crews. Closing our facilities means that most of our day service clients spend their days in their community, experiencing new things and finding innovative ways to engage with their surroundings. Our employment clients have found meaningful employment opportunities in their communities, which helps them build skills and self-confidence.
Throughout our 70 years, MRCI has adapted our programs and infrastructure to meet the needs of our clients. From the implementation of computerization to global pandemics, economic crisis, policy changes, and more – we will continue to evolve for the next 70+ years the same way we have for the last 70. One way we will continue to evolve is through the introduction of innovative programs, such as CFSS.
Community First Services and Supports, or CFSS, is a program being developed by the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Center for Medicaid or Medicare Services (CMS). CFSS is expected to launch in 2023 and will replace both the Consumer Support Grant (CSG) and PCA Choice programs. CFSS is designed to offer flexible options that meet an individual’s needs.
Consultation Services will launch alongside CFSS. Consultation Services will help the participant make an informed decision about which service model will meet their needs, Budget or Agency model. Once decided, Consultation Services will provide the participant or participants representative with an approved list of CFSS providers. When the CFSS provider is chosen, Consultation Services and the CFSS provider work together to ensure the needs of the participant are met. The CFSS provider agency cannot be the same as the Consultation Services Provider.
We are thankful to the communities we’ve served for an incredible 70 years! MRCI will continue to provide services for individuals at home, at work and in our community that are diverse and person-centered as we celebrate our past and look forward to our future.