Grants Awarded to Improve Services to People with Disabilities

As reported in last month’s Access Press, the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) has been awarded $3.2 million in […]

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As reported in last month’s Access Press, the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) has been awarded $3.2 million in federal grant money to improve community-based service delivery systems for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. Thirty-seven states were awarded one of three Systems Change Grants for Community Living.

Minnesota was one of only three states to receive two grants; both grant amounts are the maximum amount awarded in the categories.

“These grants will allow states to make meaningful changes in the lives of persons with disabilities,” said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson in announcing the awards in September. “They will also allow children and adults with disabilities to live more independent lives with the freedom to make choices about their services.”

DHS was awarded $2.3 million for its Pathways to Choice –Minnesota’s System Change Initiative grant proposal, designed to create a consumer-driven quality assurance system. Included will be an ongoing quality design commission with more than half of its membership made up of consumers to provide continual design, direction, and evaluation of project strategies. The grant will also pay for improving and updating State information resources and organizing three regional information, referral, and assistance networks in Minnesota for consumers, advocates, providers, and agencies.

Another $900,000 was awarded to the Pathways to Choice — Minnesota’s Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program grant proposal. The money will be used to increase consumer control of personal care attendant (PCA) services and address the worker shortage in this area. Participants in one of three consumer-initiated partnership and support networks (CIPS) to be developed will have an opportunity to access each other’s natural supports (such as family, friends, and neighbors) to provide PCA services, and will be offered opportunities for cooperative training, support, respite, service management, and group insurance policies. Training on reducing administrative costs to allow consumers to pay higher salaries to PCAs will be included.

“These funds will greatly further our outreach to people with disabilities, especially in under-served populations, and our work with other divisions within Continuing Care to improve quality of services statewide,” said Deb Holtz, director of the Community Quality Initiatives division that applied for, and will administer, the grants.

The Community Quality Initiatives division will celebrate the grant awards and provide more information about its goals and opportunities for consumer and stakeholder involvement at an open house on Wednesday, December 5 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the DHS offices (2284 Highcrest Road, Roseville). Ethnic cuisine will be served. For more information, or to request accommodations, call 651-634-5099.

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