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History of Collaboratives in Minnesota

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The development of the Collaboratives in Minnesota dates back more than two decades. In 1991, Governor Arne Carlson created the Action for Children Commission. This statewide task force, which included representation from nonprofit organizations, children’s advocacy groups, the business community, and government, was asked to create a vision for Minnesota children and families. As part of its charge, the Commission agreed to recommend needed changes in service delivery systems.

As a result of the Commission’s final report, “Kids Can’t Wait,” several initiatives were launched. Governor Carlson created the Children’s Cabinet at the Executive Branch level. Minnesota was selected as one of five states to compete for funding from the Pew Charitable Trust. This funding was intended to help communities consider how to provide more support for families by reconfiguring and integrating service delivery systems. To initiate some of the collaborative planning that would be required in this competitive grant process, the state selected three communities as pilot sites: St. Paul, Cass County, and Becker County. Working with state agency representatives, these communities became engaged in an intensive and comprehensive planning process.

In 1993, the Minnesota Legislature provided funding to enable the state to reach more communities with these initiatives. These grant funds were intended to serve as incentives for communities to collaborate on behalf of children and families.

Three major sources of grant funds supported the implementation of the collaborative initiatives across Minnesota: Family Services and Community-Based Collaborative funds, Children’s Mental Health Collaborative funds, and funds provided by the Pew Charitable Trust Children’s Initiative. Implementation grants helped establish Family Service, Children’s Mental Health, or joint Family Service/Children’s Mental Health Collaboratives in all but four Minnesota counties.

Communities receiving these monies are expected to plan and implement changes in their local systems to better service children and families. They are also required to establish measurable outcomes. Major stakeholders and partners represent a wide variety of private nonprofit agencies, school districts, county governments, tribal governments and community action agencies.

History and Focus of BASC

BASC was established in 1994 with a Family Service Collaborative Implementation grant from the State of Minnesota. In 1998, BASC legally became a Joint Powers entity with an impressive list of engaged partners including: public school districts within Beltrami County (Bemidji, Blackduck , Kelliher), Upper Mississippi Mental Health Center, Beltrami County, Sanford Health, Bi-County Community Action Program, Minnesota Department of Corrections, and the Bemidji Area Council of Nonprofits. Other partners added later include: Red Lake Public Schools, United Way of Bemidji Area and Bemidji Inter-District Council. Representatives from these entities serve on the BASC Governing Board. BASC is designated as an integrated Family Service/Children’s Mental Health Collaborative.

Beltrami County has its share of challenging issues to overcome including one of the highest poverty rates in Minnesota. Service availability can be scarce and resources to address complex poverty-related issues are tight due to the county’s low tax base and lack of charitable foundations that support outstate programs.

BASC models what happens when entities set aside competition for scarce resources and focus on what can be done with shared resources. Partners come to the table with an issue or problem and ask---“What if we could…?” Programs develop, resources are integrated, staff is hired, initiatives are launched, and evaluation begins.

BASC establishes and supports programs that are aligned with three Board-established priority areas: Maternal/Child Health, Behavioral Health and Educational Success. The agency’s integrated fund budget includes grants, Local Collaborative Time Study funds, county funding, state funding and partner contributions. Visionary leadership and shared values have been the keys to success.