Children’s day treatment services on verge of collapse in state 

The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) estimates that as of this year, there are approximately 130,000 children and youth, birth to age 17, in need of treatment for serious emotional disturbances. Children and families depend on day treatment and therapeutic services to provide consistent and intensive interventions to ensure they can thrive in future relationships in school, work and everyday settings.  

Children’s day treatment is a site-based mental health program, consisting of group psychotherapy and skills training services, intended to stabilize the child’s mental health status and develop and improve independent living and socialization skills (DHS). This daily classroom structure with a low provider to child ratio offers intensive therapeutic intervention that cannot be offered via telehealth.  

These services, which have already reduced capacity during the pandemic, are at risk of collapse in Minnesota. Like other healthcare and intensive therapeutic services since 2020, day treatment does not receive payment when a child is not in attendance. Coupled with staffing shortages which has caused further disruption to treatment, the financial losses have been detrimental. At a time when children are most in need of mental health supports, the reduced capacity and risk of collapse would have long-lasting, extreme effects.  

Day treatments are a critical preventative measure to keep children, teens and families out of emergency rooms and hospital settings. As we have all heard over the past two years, those systems are also completely overwhelmed. We cannot and should not lose sight of this vulnerable population that benefits from a site-based support system providing stable relationships and life skills.  

 As a collective of leading day treatment providers in Minnesota, we are coming together to share this urgent need for relief with the community. The Department of Human Services understands the gravity of the situation and is supportive of our mission. However, without additional funding to close the gap in which we are all already operating, we are at serious risk of losing these programs altogether.  

We don’t have long to act before child and adolescent day treatment faces a more permanent collapse. Join us in lifting up the tens of thousands of families who need access to critical day treatment services. We are asking the state of Minnesota to provide emergency funding to day treatment providers so that we can stay alongside families in their time of need. Please reach out to your legislators and ask that they support this crucial work.  

This letter was drafted and endorsed by leaders from the following organizations: 

Canvas Health; Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis; Fernbrook Family Center;  Fraser; Greater Minnesota Family Services; Headway Emotional Health; Lighthouse Child and Family Services; Northeast Youth and Family Services; Nexus Family Healing; People Inc.; St. David’s Center for Child and Family Development; Therapeutic Services Agency; Washburn Center for Children; and Amherst H. Wilder Foundation