Home Visits: Minnesota’s Help Me Grow Program Might Just Refer You and Your Child Without Your Consent

Baby talking his first stepsHome Visits: Minnesota’s Help Me Grow Program Might Just Refer You and Your Child Without Your Consent

With all the discussion of expanded home visits in Minnesota, an existing program, Help Me Grow (HMG), is already referring parents and children for the purpose of home visiting services.  Help Me Grow is an interagency organization, working with and on behalf of the Department of Education and Department of Health and partnering with all local service agencies.

The HMG website is bright and cheerful and demonstrates the importance of helping children develop to their furthest potential. We are sure that there are many devoted individuals who will deliver these home visit services.  In some cases, services may be needed. However, with any government program there will be monetary assistance followed by regulations.  Always beware the “free” program!

HOME VISIT REFERRALS

If you as a parent, or someone else such as a professional, friend, family member (or basically anyone) has concerns about your child’s development, you and your child can be referred to the Minnesota Help Me Grow program without your knowledge. Currently, professionals (health care providers or teachers) are required to refer your child if they are concerned about any aspect of your child’s development.  This is quite an overreach!!!

Help Me Grow 2Help Me Grow 1A Minnesota Department of Education’s “Help Me Grow” spokesperson stated that in 2018, just under 22,000 children, birth through kindergarten, were referred to the program “because a caring adult in their lives identified a concern”.  That number has skyrocketed from just 533 referrals in 2010 when the program was first implemented.   This same spokesperson related that the program is expected to rapidly expand very soon.

Although originally begun for ECSE (Early Childhood Special Education Services) purposes, Help Me Grow wishes to expand services to the broader realm of early childhood according to a 2016 article on the Think Small website.  According to the Think Small article, “Many families are fearful of connecting with the school districts because they do not want their child to be labeled for years to come. Expanded Help Me Grow hopes to help mitigate this by offering services beyond ECSE and making sure families are informed about the options.”  Indeed parents ought to be concerned when agencies and districts are housing this early data on an individual’s life.       https://www.thinksmallblog.org/?p=422

Referrals are based upon developmental milestones from the following four categories: motor, communication and language, social and emotional and cognitive.  The “when to refer” section offers pointers on when best to refer to your child, birth to 2 years old. Yet, children can be referred up to 5 years old under the 3 to 5 year preschool program.

Help Me Grow 3The only issue we see here is that each child develops a little differently, some ahead and some behind, developmentally.  Take for instance, my friend’s son who didn’t utter a word until he was 2 years old.  His chatty sister spoke for him most of that time.  When he reached two, he spoke in paragraphs and they’ve not been able to quiet him since.  According to this chart, that infant’s non-speaking behavior (babbling) would have kicked off a couple of years of home visits.  That young man today is not only a very intelligent young man but also a fine public speaker.

According to the standard visiting length set by the Minnesota Visiting Nurses Association, they prefer to see families for 3 or 4 years according to testimony provided before the House Early Childhood Committeehttp://ww2.house.leg.state.mn.us/audio/mp3ls91/child022119.mp3

The referral page gives the disclaimer that a referral may be done without your knowledge or consent. Of course, they “encourage” the person making the referral “to speak with the family about the referral”. Not necessary, however.  “As a professional, you MUST refer…
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According to the program website, “The family will be contacted by the local school district to arrange for a screening or evaluation to determine if a child is eligible for Infant and Toddler Intervention or Preschool Special Education services.”
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DATA COLLECTION

Besides the referral component, the data being collected on your child is concerning.  Some families may never know that their family data was entered into the MDE website.  The Minnesota Dept of Education will have information stating your child needs home visits as well as the local school district.  What if you decline?

When a doctor or teacher refers your child to Help Me Grow, they will enter your child’s first, last and name (if they have it), their date of birth, their age, who they live with, your name, address, and phone number (if you are the person the child lives with). If they can’t find your phone number, another contact of someone close to you will be given to Help Me Grow authorities.

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Once in the Help Me Grow portal, information is entered to refer to the proper school district.

Help Me Grow 8

This information goes to the school district where the parent and child resides. You will be contacted within seven to ten days to discuss the referral.

After contact from the school district, early intervention professionals may choose to conduct a screening using simple questionnaires or by talking with you about your child’s development.

“Help Me Grow” online information states that the data collection under the national model is to “understand all aspects of the Help Me Grow system, including the identification of gaps and barriers”.

EXPANSION

There is also an ongoing effort to expand Help Me Grow to be able to connect with a wider group of families to a broad array of supports and services—following the “national” Help Me Grow model developed by the CT Children’s Medical Center.   The goal is to move toward this national model while offering the child and parent more services with the obligatory required data collection.

In 2016, a number of recommendations were made to expand the Help Me Grow system in Minnesota including state funding.  During a May 2016 Help Me Grow tour of the state, Kelly Monson, director of the Minnesota Children’s Cabinet stated, This is the second year that Help Me Grow was included in the Governor’s budget. Currently, the Senate is allocating the requested $1 million in state funding for the program. While Help Me Grow presently receives funding through a few different sources, they are somewhat restrictive, and extra dollars are needed to expand. Monson hopes to continue to use multiple, sustainable funding sources for the program in the future, including public-private partnerships.”

Help Me grow 9

Help me Grow 10

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http://www.thinksmallblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Final-recs-document-2.8.16.pdf

While a parent may decline home visit services their information has already been uploaded to the Minnesota Department of Education and local school district.  Is this correct information?  Who else is receives this information? Are the services truly necessary?  Will the current developmental milestones become more rigid?  What philosophical ideas does your pediatrician hold concerning good health as well as your child care provider in good education?

Parents must be aware of their pediatrician’s ideas about what constitutes good health and whether they would have consentual conversations about home visits.  Additionally, parents must be aware of their child care provider’s ideas about what constitutes good development at these young ages.  The responsible parent will do everything in their power to ensure their children’s success which may or may not include government intervention. There are other options.

In the end, and in the case of Help Me Grow, parents do need to be aware of possible referrals when your local school district calls for home visits.  MACC would advise all parents to request having their data removed from both the MDE and local district, regardless of whether you decide or not that home visits are in the best interests of your family.  This program is only going to expand and expand in funding, policy and cradle to grave data collection!

Baby talking his first steps
Cute funny happy baby in a colorful shirt making his first steps on a green lawn in a sunny summer garden, mother holding his hands supporting by learning to walk

Great Start for All Minnesota Children Act Makes Appearance in Senate; Passes Portions into Omnibus Bill via System of Short Bills

split-rock-lighthouse-at-night

Great Start for All Minnesota Children Act Makes Appearance in Senate; Passes Portions into Omnibus Bill via System of Short Bills

 While we’ve had our eyes on the “big bills”, the DFL-authored House Files 1 and 30 and Senate Files 820 and 671, the Senate and House have been obfuscating transparency, replicating clone after clone, 28 in all cloning from within and without, passing HF 1/SF 820 via short, near-single subject bills. Recently, you might remember that HF 1 grew in size from 8 to 26 pages, greatly broadening the scope of the bill. In the end, the only way to stop House File 1 is for the Senate to stand strong for liberty!  We are expecting that they will!!!

One of the biggest problems with House File 1 is it’s one-size-fits-all ideology. Whether it’s prenatal care, home visits, babies in the schools or a myriad of grant programs and appropriations, PARENTS have that first right to raise their children as they see best.  It is not the role of government to herd expectant mothers toward socialized medicine programs with agendized outcomes for all adults and children.  It is not the role of government to send social workers and other government workers into our homes to snoop out every corner all while taking data on how they feel we’re doing.  It is not the role of government to push all mothers into the workforce because the baby boomers are in decline, and thus, their babies must go into the schools.  It is not the role of government to fund and “kindly” force new daycares into the Race to the Top Parent Aware accountability system.  It is not the role of government to attempt to predetermine our lives in any single way!

Of immediate concern, House File 1 has essentially passed into the Omnibus in its entirety.  Some funding levels are now left blank which means there will be changes. This has taken a good deal of research to read each clone bill and determine how each matches up with the HF 1.  The Senate has passed a series of short, single subject bills that are replicas of SF 820 (companion to HF 1) or the newly expanded version.

There are many concerns going forward, however.  Once a bill is passed in one chamber, amendments are a big concern. Amendments may be brought to the Senate floor vote or to Conference Committee, bringing the Senate into closer approximation with House.  Will these Senate bills be used as “bargaining chips”?

This is not a good position to be in and MACC recommends you call / email the following Senators as well as your own Senator immediately:  Senators Jim Abeler, Michelle Benson, Scott Jensen, Justin Eichorn, Karin Housley, Mary Kiffmeyer, Roger Chamberlain, Andrew Mathews, Julie Rosen, Carla Nelson, Eric Pratt and Paul Gazelka.

 For sure, the Great Start Act is a Trojan Horse for Minnesota.  Some might refer to this Act as a “slippery slope”.  And indeed, Great Start is a slippery slope that would change the educational and health landscape of Minnesota within a quick year or two.  This is an end-game scenario!  We, at MACC, have never believed that a successful strategy equates with waiting until we are down to that very last vestige of hope!  We believe in standing strong on behalf of our freedoms, our parental rights and local control.

Thanks to all who’ve been calling!  We’d appreciate our members also sending emails.  Most of the Senators do not know this bill as well as we do, plain and simple.  This bill is coming out of the agencies and most have never read the bill.  (Below you’ll find a list of the original and 28 clone bills.  Some bills are exact clones coming out of the 8 page original HF 1 while other bills are being passed to expand the scope of HF 1.  Special attention is given to the senators since HF 1 will easily pass the House.)  Keep up the calling and emailing!

Expect to see a video explaining the expanded HF 1 on Monday.  A hearing for SF 855 is set for Tuesday, March 26 in Senator Benson’s committee.

ORIGINAL BILLS

HF 1 & SF 820 introduced 1.10.2019 and 2.04.2019.  DFL-authors only.

Hearing in House Early Childhood Committee, 3.07.2019. Full 35 pages.

CLONE BILLS #1 & #2

HF 30 & SF 671 introduced 1.10.2019 and 1.31.2019.  DFL- only.

No hearings for either.  Full 35 pages.

CLONE BILLS #3 & #4: Replica of Article 2, Home Visits

HF 1226 introduced 2.14.2019 & SF 1438 introduced 2.18.2019.  Bipartisan

SF 1438 introduced 2.18.2019.  Hearing for HF 1226, 2.21.2019.  HF 1226 goes to Omnibus.

SF 1438 authors: Relph, Abeler, Eichorn  No hearing.

CLONE BILLS #5 & #6: Replica of Article I, Prenatal Care as Socialized Healthcare

HF 909 & SF 855 introduced 2.07.2019 and 2.07.2019.  HF 909 heard in Health & Human Services 2.27.2019 and Early Childhood 3.26.2019. Passed to Omnibus.

SF 855 authors:  Sens. Abeler, Benson, Jensen Hearing on Tuesday.

 

***SF 855: HEARING this Tuesday, March 26th in Health & Human Services***

     Senate Rm 1200, 3:00pm.  1st hearing prior to the March 29 deadline on companion bills.

 CLONE BILLS #7 & #8: Replica Article 3

HF 1238 & SF 1111 introduced 2.14.2019 and 2.11.2019.

HF 1238 heard in Early Childhood 2.19.2019 and 2nd reading, 2.28.2019

SF 1111 heard in Family Care & Aging (Housley) on 3.16.2019. Passed.

SF 1111 authors: Sens. Weber, Eichorn, Relph

Article 3: Line 5.19 to 5.21; Line 8.11 to 9.18; Line 9.19 to 10.13; Line 14.19 to 14.28

CLONE BILL #9: Replica Article 3

HF 1227 introduced 2.14.2019.  No Senate companion.

CLONE BILLS #10 & #11: Replica Article 5, Greater Minnesota Child Care Facility Capital Grant Program

HF 423 introduced 1.28.2019.  Heard Jobs & Economy 3.05.2019; Early Childhood 3.14; Capital Investment 3.21  1st Engrossment, bill has been amended & passed.

SF 538 introduced 1.28.2019.  Heard 2.13.2019 in Family Care & Aging (Housley, chair).  Authors. Sens. Relph, Eichorn, M. Johnson   Bill NOT amended and passed.

Article 5: Line 32.8 to 34.6

CLONE BILLS #12 & #13: Article 5: Initiative Foundations – funds Parent Aware

HF 422 introduced 1.28.2019.  Hear Jobs & Economy 3.05.2019; Early Childhood 3.14.2019.

SF 537 introduced 1.28.2019.  Hearing 2.13.2019 passed into Omnibus.

Authors: Sens. Nelson, Weber, Relph

Article 5: Line 34.7 to 35.3

CLONE BILLS #14: Article 4

HF 2575 introduced 3.18.2019.  Heard in Early Childhood 3.19.2019. Author: Rep Pinto. No companion in the Senate.

CLONE BILLS #15 & #16: Article 3

HF 2463 introduced 3.13.2019.  Heard Early Childhood 3.21.2019. (Pinto)

SF 2630 introduced. No hearing, referred to Senate Education Policy. (Wiklund)

CLONE BILLS #17 & #18: Article 1: Prenatal Care as One-Size-Fits-All

HF No companion

SF 2642 introduced 3.21.2019.  No hearing. Original Article 1 modified with additional language to read, “and other emerging public health issues.”

Author: Sen. Abeler

 CLONE BILLS #19 & #20: Article 5: First Children’s Finance

HF 2420 introduced 3.13.2019.  Hearing 3.19.2019 Early Childhood.  Authors: Reps. Davnie, Zerwas, Hamilton, Baker Passed

SF 2559 introduced 3.18.2019. Referred to Housley, Family Care & Aging. Authors: Sens. Housley, Relph, Abeler

CLONE BILLS #21 & #22: Article 1: Funding Public Health Stat. 144.0742

HF 2606 introduced 3.20.2019.  Author: Rep Liebling No hearing.

SF 2453 introduced _______ Hearing 3.19.2019.  Passed.

SF 2453 Authors: Sens. Benson & Abeler

CLONE BILLS #23 & #24: Article 1: Sets up “commission” of stakeholders to study Article 1 (prove the need)

HF 2171 introduced 3.07.2019.  Hearing 3.12.2019 Health & Human Policy; 3.15.2019 Government

Authors: Reps. Davnie, Zerwas

SF 2265 introduced 3.11.2019.  No hearing 3.26 (Wednesday!)

SF 2265 Authors: Sens. Eichorn, Abeler, Senjem

*** HEARING this Wednesday, 3.27.2019 Health & Human Services Finance***

 CLONES #25 – #28 deal with Child Care assistance for parenting time and custody schedules.

Minnesota Great Start for All – Home Visits & Babies in School – Slated for Omnibus; HF 1 Rises as Possible Childcare Fraud Bill

Minnesota House of Representatives

Minnesota Great Start for All – Home Visits & Babies in School – Slated for Omnibus; HF 1 Rises as Possible Childcare Fraud Bill

By: Linda Bell

The Minnesota House Early Education Committee heard House File 1, an act titled the “Great Start for All Minnesota Children Act,” on Thursday, March 7th.  The Act includes Article 1: Prenatal Care and Utilization; Article 2: Home Visits for pregnant mothers and mothers with young children; Article 3: Great Start Fund establishes permanent treasury fund for the purpose of funding babies, birth to 5’s presence in the schools and head starts; and Article 4: Early Learning including the CCAP and Child Care Block grant.  In the end, Chair Pinto stated that HF 1 would be laid over for possible inclusion into the Omnibus Bill.

Whereas, you may have heard that the original bill was 8 pages long, the new replacement is now 25 pages.  The bill’s chief author, Rep. Kotyza-Witthuhn, spent 11 short minutes explaining walking us through Article 3 including the Great Start Fund.  Birth to 3 in the schools was moved to Article 4 under the title, Birth to 5, Family Eligibility.

The hearing was divided into three sections: bill summary, bill testimony and legislative discussion. Once Rep. Kotyza-Witthuhn concluded her overview, Chair Pinto called for the bill’s “preferred testifiers” which honestly set the mood for the rest of the session. The Early Ed committee has a decidedly different feel this year.

A number of testifiers spoke on behalf of the bill, relating positive experiences with childcare assistance, school community centers and their ability to work.  Testifiers were given extended periods of time to share their personal stories and were very well received by everyone in the room.

However, the next four received strict time limits and were not well-received by the chair.  Part of the dilemma here is that the chair and bill author had purposely chosen to focus on childcare assistance for low-income individuals, and while important, did not mention the expansive funding and appropriations laid out in the original bill which was 400% of the federal income poverty level, equating to annual income of $100,400.00 for a family of 4.  Again, this program affords  daycare up into the upper-middle class.  However, the new HF 1 appropriations were removed, left blank and will not be known until later in the session.  Will appropriations stay at the same levels as the old bill at 400% of federal income poverty level, will they decrease or increase?  These next testifiers had read both bills.

First, Linda Bell questioned the Great Start Fund in light of our present childcare fraud.  The fund would be secured via allotments, transfers, donations, and other funding which lacked administrative specifics including the total expected appropriations to fund.  She asked who would be in charge of this fund: an agency, a mix of agencies and if the fund would be audited. She offered an amendment for transparency, “An annual audit will be conducted and report sent to the legislature.” She also, offered an amendment regarding a rather loose statement on financial reports, “An annual financial statement is required by law to be submitted to the legislature and will be made readily available to the public.” Lastly, Linda spoke about the importance of families in the lives of babies and young children as well as society as a whole and the detrimental effects HF 1 would have on the family. Linda’s testimony was cut off by Chair Pinto at that point.

Secondly, Elizabeth Bangert testified.  You may have heard of Elizabeth whose alias is the “Minnesota Citizen Lobbyist” and spends many days at the Capitol in defense of her child care business. Due to distracted committee members who were on phones, in side conversations and laughing, Elizabeth became frustrated and was moved to tears. Elizabeth addressed a number of different issues. First, she stated that the “system is rigged” and that big chain childcare centers who have records of maltreatment never lost their Parent Aware 4-star rating while home-based or small centers did. She stated, “This is a turf war.  You have people who want [state] money in the schools and people who want money in the giant chain centers. And that’s why no one cares about us in the middle.” Additionally, Elizabeth declared that the Child Care Block grant was changed in 2014 to remove exemptions for vaccines.”  [MACC has consistently stated that when parents and/or children enter into school programs that originate from federal grants, there will be strings or tentacles.  Loss of exemptions (loss of parental rights) is one right there!  How many other regulations are found in these grants but not specifically stated in the bill?]

Caleb Stromquist traveled all the way from the northern border of Minnesota (5 to 6 hours one way) to speak about educational and health freedoms and parental rights.  Caleb also testified for HF 1226, home visit portion, a few weeks ago.

Lastly, Sandi Hayner testified about the government grants regarding babies/toddlers in schools including home visits. She questioned when a difference of opinion arises, will parents be “in the driver’s seat.” Continuing she asked whose values will be respected, the parents or the governments? She spoke of a family situation relating to a child where the school team diagnosed her daughter with a permanent condition without offering much help to work through the issue.  Sandi sought help outside the system leading to a successful outcome. She mentioned the childcare fraud and encouraged the committee to wait until after the March 13th Report from the Legislative Auditor’s office before passing HF 1. Lastly, she implored the chair to make sure that acceptance of assistance monies would not equate to quasi parent-shared custody with the state. Chair Pinto tried to cut her off in the midst of testimony.

Childcare / Daycare fraud conversation was brought forth near the end of the legislative discussion and question section.  Rep Joshua Heintzeman asked a series of questions regarding daycare fraud and why certain language seemingly promoted fraud.  It’s quite technical but in the end, Article 3 and Article 2 are bringing Minnesota into conformity with federal regulations.

All in all, there is expansive funding in HF 1.  HF 1 funding is for Minnesota mothers and babies, home visits and babies in school programs and/or  massive funding that expands childcare fraud.  Likely it is both! According to whistleblower Scott Stillman, child care fraud is happening in two distinct ways.  One, daycare centers were receiving grant monies where no children were enrolled nor benefitted care, and two, individuals at high levels in Minnesota government, including the legislature, are receiving fraudulent funds for their own personal gain.  Under these circumstances, it is the opinion of MACC, that HF 1 should include no more than a “cost of living” increase until the childcare fraud situation is settled. The people of Minnesota are funding these assistance programs in good faith and we deserve the truth!

Read the bill here:  HF 1 HOOO1 delete all

Watch the hearing video here.