Beginning in the mid-1990s, Minnesota (where child welfare is county-administered) began funding two types of collaboratives: (1) the Children’s Mental Health Collaboratives, which are coordinated by the state Department of Human Services, and (2) the Family Service Collaboratives (covering children in the child welfare system), which are coordinated by the state Department of Children, Families, and Learning (the equivalent of an education department). Both types of collaboratives bring partners together to do coordination, planning, and purchasing of services, and allow a more holistic and locally-designed approach. Also, the collaborative structure allows access to federal funding for IV-E and Medicaid. Local public partners include school districts, public health, corrections, and human services, and private partners include organizations such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H, and YMCAs, as well as substance abuse treatment and mental health agencies.
The Putting All Communities Together (PACT) 4 Families Collaborative is one of the earliest and possibly most successful examples. It is a four-county, multi-agency partnership that operates both types of collaboratives in west-central Minnesota. The four counties cover 3,700 square miles and have a total population of 93,000 people. PACT 4 emphasizes prevention and early intervention, targets the needs of children ages 0 to 21 with severe emotional problems, and provides support to families so that they can keep their children. In addition to state funding, it receives local funding: the four counties each fund it at $1 per capita, schools contribute $1 per student, and organizations contribute $1,500-3,000, depending on their budget. PACT 4 has also received some foundation funding. The program helps to create awareness of all the services available and encourage services other than probation and corrections for the targeted children. Overall, the early intervention has helped prevent out-of-home placements, infused additional resources into child welfare, and put children’s mental health needs in the forefront of the child welfare systems.