At Children’s Minnesota, we know that good health requires more than good health care. In fact, 80% of a child’s health is tied to where they live, learn and play.
That’s why we have the Community Connect program. Providing a more comprehensive model of care that addresses the broader social determinants of health is a critical part of our pursuit to be every family’s essential partner in raising healthier children.
The program helps connect families in our Minneapolis and St. Paul Primary Care Clinics to existing community resources, including food pantries and benefit programs, transportation services, legal assistance, housing support, early childhood education programs, employment search assistance and much more.
Community Connect helps a growing family find a place they can call home
Meet Amina, a mom of a growing family. After she gave birth to her son, she had questions about parts of their hospital bill. She was referred to a Community Connect resource navigator, Segal.
Resource navigators like Segal are staff members at Children’s Minnesota who help families get connected to resources and support them on an ongoing basis. By facilitating an introduction to Financial Counseling staff, Segal helped Amina receive a discount on her son’s medical bill.
Several months later, Amina became pregnant again and learned that her housing was at risk. When Amina’s landlord discovered she was expecting, she was notified that her family’s lease did not allow five people to live in a two-bedroom apartment.
After being on a one-year waiting list for a bigger unit, Amina had been previously denied a larger apartment because the application forms were filled out incorrectly due to a language barrier. When another three-bedroom unit suddenly became available, Amina had just one day to apply.
Her first call was Segal. “I went to Segal for help in filling out the application. I brought her the documents and she helped me understand them,” said Amina. “She gave me advice so I was able to get this apartment.”
When asked about her experience with Community Connect, she said, “The best part is being able to understand things in your own language and to find someone who understands you.”
About Community Connect
We know kids’ experiences at home, in school, and in their neighborhoods are the biggest drivers of overall health and well-being. Community Connect is a systematized approach that allows Children’s Minnesota to be responsive to families’ health-related social needs, with particular attention to families of color and Native American families who experience greater disparities in health outcomes.
How Community Connect works
The process begins by having families fill out a simple yes-or-no form that asks about their access to nutritious food, adequate housing and other social needs. Screening responses trigger real-time referrals to the team of resource navigators who work with the family to determine which resources may be most helpful. The resource navigators tap into our network of community partners, facilitate warm hand-offs, and then continue to support the family to ensure they have access to the resources they need to be healthy.
“When we hired the resource navigators, we intentionally hired people from the communities that they serve,” said Jessica Block, community health programs manager at Children’s Minnesota. “It was very important to us to have that cultural congruency and allow families to have what sometimes can be sensitive conversations in their own language.”
The proof is in the data
Since the program started in 2017:
- Over 39,000 patients have been screened for health-related social needs.
- Nearly 8,000 families have enrolled in Community Connect, receiving essential support across a range of resource issues.
- A total of 72% of program participants report they have been successful and/or feel equipped to meet their needs.
A robust evaluation of Community Connect data has clearly demonstrated that addressing social determinants of health improves the health of kids, giving them a strong foundation to thrive. Across program participants, we saw:
- Increased preventative care services and well-child visits
- Decreased emergency room visits
- Increased well-controlled asthma
- Increased patient/family satisfaction
Sustaining Community Connect
While this program is critical to the well-being of our patients, it is not a reimbursable service. Community Connect is completely funded by individual, corporate, and community donors, including a generous grant from Kohl’s Cares.
To continue to help foster conditions where kids can thrive, we need your help. Every child and their family deserve a safe place to live, access to nutritious food, and other essential resources. Help families like Amina’s by donating today.
For more information, contact us: [email protected].
Give to Children’s Minnesota
When you donate to Children’s Minnesota, you make possible the most extraordinary care. Fetal surgery. Heart transplants. Innovative cancer treatments. Your donations also make possible the vital wraparound care — support services, financial help, sibling play areas — that help families cope with hard times. As a nonprofit, we rely on the generosity of people like you to make it all possible. Learn more and donate here.