Advancing a Holistic Approach to Strengthen Families

Ramsey County will strengthen families by listening to and understanding families’ needs and barriers while providing non-traditional services and opportunities that promote wellbeing for infants, children, youth and their families.

Why this is a priority

Systems do not always fairly respond to and meet the needs of all residents. Families and residents, particularly African American and American Indian communities, deserve better responses to their needs. Wellbeing is determined in part by political, social and economic opportunities, resources and supports. The physical environments of the neighborhoods where we live, learn, play and work also contribute to our wellbeing. Infants, children and youth (ages 0-24) who have healthy minds and bodies have greater success in their formative years and as adults. We believe that early and ongoing investment in families yields better educational outcomes; greater generational economic prosperity; asset and wealth-building; and stronger communities for all.

Building on previous work and lessons learned

Communities have historically communicated that county and county funded services do not meet their needs early enough. Coupled with the Youth Continuum of Care work, the county developed a baseline of county contracted and direct services for youth in 2018. The county used this baseline to track how its investment in service changes over time as efforts continue to shift from intensive to preventive interventions. The county is making changes to policies, structures and procedures that influence how our communities are served, particularly Black/African American and American Indian communities that have experienced the greatest disparities throughout county systems. Current efforts also include coordinated efforts in partnership with community to ensure the growth and development of children in early childhood by connecting families to services and early childhood resources. In addition, the county is committed to child welfare reform initiatives in partnership with community to keep children in their homes and reduce out-of-home displacements.

Ensure racial equity and shared power with community is applied

A racial and health equity approach is required if we are to truly serve infants, children, youth and their families. Services and programs must be voiced and developed by the communities most impacted by our work while incorporating the principles of safety, choice, relationship, collaboration, trustworthiness and empowerment. Ramsey County has convened diverse communities in various formats to learn and hear from communities most impacted by county services and programs, including early childhood initiative community advisory groups, Black/African American community and Saint Paul Indians in Action (SIA). The county also used a parent voices survey, community visioning workshops and Public Health’s community health assessment to learn which issues matter most to community and how community must have a role in defining and shaping county services, resources and programs.