"MNPrairie is a human services organization that combines the personal touch of a smaller agency with the resources and efficiency of a larger one to be better stewards of public money and better purveyors of safety, health and well-being."
Introduction to Minnesota Prairie County Alliance
Minnesota Prairie County Alliance (MNPrairie) is a county human services agency created through a joint powers agreement that provides the full array of public human service programs for Dodge, Steele, and Waseca counties.
Public human services provided through MNPrairie include income and health care assistance such as healthcare coverage, cash and food assistance, childcare assistance, and child support; social services such as child and adult protection, chemical dependency assessments, mental health and disability supports; and licensing for foster care and family child care.
Effective June 1, 2014, Dodge, Steele and Waseca counties entered into an agreement that merged their three respective human service departments into one new, multi-county agency – Minnesota Prairie County Alliance (MNPrairie).
The merger marked the culmination of planning that began in 2009, when twelve counties in southeastern Minnesota began exploring such a partnership. Over the next few years, for various reasons nine of the counties opted out. But despite this, the project moved forward. Details regarding funding, governance and service delivery were solidified.
The current organization is governed by each of the three member counties and is a response to a simple truth – the future will require us to serve more people more effectively with resources that are not keeping pace with demand. The organization is predominately funded by the federal government, State of Minnesota, and three member counties.
From 2001 to 2011, Dodge, Steele and Waseca counties’ human services expenditures increased by 39 percent while federal and state funding decreased by 4 percent. And with the counties’ population expected to increase by 14 percent over the next 20 years – with a 59 percent increase in people 85 and older – demand on human services is expected to continue to grow at unprecedented rates. So the counties are adapting by working together.
As of January 1, 2015, MNPrairie consolidated many administrative activities that were previously duplicated across the three agencies. Our pooled resources enabled us to purchase and use once cost-prohibitive technologies that enable us to better analyze data, measure performance and manage electronic records, and to research emerging human services practices.
These efficiencies are expected to allow us to offset initial cost increases of the merger and, over time, cause the growth in local human services costs to be lower than they would be without the merger.
A deeper bench of staff and increased specialization will improve responsiveness and enhance focus on the prevention and early intervention measures that can thwart problems before they arise. MNPrairie will allow the member counties to stretch their tax dollars further and improve the safety and wellness of their constituents.