Minnesota Family Investment Program and Children’s Mental Health Pilot Evaluation

The Minnesota State Legislature appropriated funds to implement children’s mental health screening programs for children in families served by the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) at two pilot sites. The aim of this appropriation was to identify and address the mental health needs of children in MFIP families and modify MFIP Employment Plans to include children’s mental health activities. Screening children and referring the children to services if indicated was hypothesized to improve the parent’s getting or keeping a job.

The legislation posed two research questions: (a) What is “the effect of children’s identified mental health needs, including social and emotional needs, on Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) participants’ ability to obtain and retain employment,”; and (b) What is “the effect on work activity of MFIP participants’ needs to address their children’s mental health needs.”

The pilots operated for 18 months in Becker County with Becker County Children’s Initiative (BCCI) as the grantee and for 15 months in Ramsey County at the Employment Services (ES) Provider Lifetrack Resources in St. Paul.

Benefits of the program, according to the sites, included the education received by job counselor staff on the benefits of serving the mental health needs of families and the way the program encouraged a holistic systems approach to serving the needs of families rather than focusing narrowly on employment for the caregivers. Both sites have made changes to their service delivery models in part due to learnings from these pilot projects.