Health & Human Services

Goodhue County Health & Human Services' (GCHHS) mission is to "Promote, Protect and Strengthen the Health of Individuals, Families and Communities".  In partnership with local service providers, regional, state, and federal partners, GCHHS provides a wide range of services.  These include educating people through public health efforts, providing safety & protection to the most vulnerable children and adults, providing care for addictions and mental health, and enabling people in Goodhue County to live independently.

The GCHHS Department consists of three service divisions:
Economic Assistance
     See what economic assistance services are available
Public Health Division
    Discover the various public health services available in Goodhue County
Social Services Division
      Find out what services are available in Goodhue County

Goodhue County Receives $274,920 from South Country Health Alliance    

South Country Health Alliance (SCHA) announced on December 7th at their annual dinner in St. Cloud, MN that Goodhue County is one of the 2014 Community Reinvestment Program Grants recipients.  South Country received a total of 32 proposals with approximately $7.3 million of funding requests.  They awarded 17 grants totaling $2,990,347.00 and our county is one of the very lucky recipients!                          

Goodhue County's proposal focused on improving the health of SCHA members and addressing community social determinants of health, more specifically in the area of child abuse as a serious public health issue.  Goodhue County's proposal will be fully funded in the amount of $274,920 to be utilized for this work starting 1/1/2015 for 3 years.  Letters of support were also received from Every Hand Joined and Red Wing School District - Colvill.  
SCHA picture of receiving grant

 (L-R)     Commissioner Ted Seifert, Commissioner Dan Rechtzigel, 
HHS Director Nina Arneson & son Brady Arneson, SCHA CEO Leota Lind

Description of Public Health Issue – Focus Area:

Child abuse is a serious public health issue that has lifelong impacts.  Children who experience early life adversity are at increased risk of health problems.  These problems increase as the number of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) increases (see ). ACEs correlate with social determinants of health like economic status, educational attainment, and family support.  

Research shows individuals who experienced intense stressful experiences such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, mental illness of a parent, and incarceration of a parent (ACEs) were more likely to develop depression, Ischemic heart disease, liver disease, and COPD. They are also more likely to have sexually transmitted diseases and have adolescent and unintended pregnancy.   Those with 4 or more ACEs were 2.2 times more likely to be smokers, 7.4 times more likely to consider themselves alcoholic, 10.3 times more likely to have ever injected drugs, and 12.2 times more likely to attempt suicide than those with none.    

Because ACEs predict disease burden, they also predict healthcare costs, such as prescription costs, decades after childhood.    Prescription rates for antidepressant, antipsychotic, and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) prescriptions are higher for those with 4 or more ACEs than those with zero.  Further study is analyzing the relationship of ACE scores to doctor office visits, emergency room visits, and hospitalizations.  Higher health care costs would be expected in individuals experiencing ACEs as a result of riskier behavior and higher rates of substance abuse, mental health issues, and physical health issues.

Certain risk factors predict abuse and neglect—in other words, certain risk factors may predict ACEs scores and future healthcare costs.  The Parent Support Outreach Program (PSOP) in Goodhue County aims at families with at least one child under the age of 10 and at least two of the following risk factors:

1.  Financial difficulties
2.  History of abuse and neglect
3.  Chemical health concerns
4.  Mental health concerns 
5.  Domestic violence          

Analysis of families who accept PSOP shows the prevalence of these risk factors.  Nearly 60% of families had inadequate incomes, 28% had an adult with a chronic emotional problem, and 18% had an adult with a substance abuse problem.  The $17,000 GCHHS receives per year for PSOP allows limited intervention with a small number of families. At the same time, reports of child abuse and neglect are increasing in Goodhue County. Child abuse assessments and investigations increased from 82 in 2012 to 138 in 2013, and are on a pace to exceed 180 in 2014.   

This project seeks to address multiple social determinants of health in the areas of individual behavior, social environment, physical environment, and health services.  GCHHS will hire one full time PSOP caseworker to provide case management and coordinate services for families.   Having a worker focusing on PSOP will increase the number of families served and make it easier to intervene effectively when families have significant needs.   It is estimated the worker could offer services to more than 100 families per year.    On average about 50% of families to whom PSOP services are offered accept the services at some level.       

Families will be referred for PSOP services through screened-out maltreatment reports, self-referrals or community referrals.  Families referred from other community agencies, especially internally from GCHHS financial workers or public health nurses, will usually have discussed the program with a worker and agreed to have their names submitted to PSOP or to initiate contact themselves.
PSOP services will address participants’ health in the following areas: 

1.    increased participation in preventative health services, i.e. well-child visits and immunizations
2.    connecting children with early childhood screenings and education
3.    encouraging family participation in physical activity
4.    enhancing the protective factors that are demonstrated to reduce abuse and neglect (Protective factors include parental resilience, nurturing and attachment, knowledge of child development, concrete supports, and social and emotional competence in children. 


The PSOP case manager will provide referrals to a wide variety of services including to health care providers.  PSOP research shows referrals to mental health providers are common (33% of families).  For early childhood services, we would emphasize connecting families to the community partners who are involved in the Goodhue County Community Health Improvement Plan home visiting action team.  Pregnant women and children under 3 would be referred to the Public Health Follow Along Program to track development, so children with a delay or disability can be referred by Follow Along to their school district for Early Childhood Special Education. Preschool children ages 3 to 5 would be referred to the school for Early Childhood Screening (if needed) and to Head Start.  For physical activity, PSOP funds could purchase families a membership at a fitness center or equipment such as bikes and helmets.
The worker and family will create a plan to enhance the family's protective factors in the following ways:  

 a.    Parental Resilience—connecting to supportive individuals through home visiting, therapy, support groups, or family group decision making
b.    Nurturing and Attachment—referrals to parenting education such as Public Health Family Home Visiting, Head Start, or Early Childhood Family Education 

c.    Knowledge of Child Development—referrals to Public Health Follow Along Program or parenting education 
d.    Concrete Supports—addressing financial needs with PSOP grant funds and/or referrals to GCHHS’s Income Maintenance Unit or Three Rivers Community Action, Inc. 

e.    Social and Emotional Competence—connecting to early childhood education, Head Start, or therapy
The County will also train GCHHS staff and other grant partners on trauma so they can respond to clients in a trauma-informed way.  Traumatized children are extremely vulnerable to stress, and interventions intended to help clients have the potential to exacerbate the impact of previous traumatic experiences.   

 SCHA logo
 NEWS | South Country Health Alliance
 December 15, 2014 
 Emma Pederson / Communications and Media Coordinator
 Phone: 507-431-6378 / Email:
                                                                                           For Immediate Release
South Country Health Alliance announces recipients of community reinvestment grant funding
South Country Health Alliance recently awarded $2,990,347 to 17 organizations, supporting initiatives focused on improving the health of South Country members and addressing community social determinants of health.   
The following organizations were selected for grant funding:

  • Apple Tree Dental
  • City of Wadena
  • Fernbrook Family
  • Goodhue County Health and Human Services
  • New Ulm Medical Center
  • Owatonna Hospital/Allina Health
  • Sibley County Developmental Achievement Center, Inc.
  • Sibley County Public Health and Human Services
  • Southeastern Minnesota Area Agency on Aging, Inc.
  • Steele County Clothesline
  • Steele County Human Services
  • T.J. Schoen Family Dentistry
  • Todd County Health and Human Services
  • Tri-County Health Care
  • Wabasha County Social Services
  • Waseca County Early Childhood Initiative
  • Waseca County Human Services  

South Country received 32 applications, requesting more than $7.3 million for projects that could benefit South Country members, their providers, and the communities they live in.

As a county-owned health plan, South Country has a strong commitment to support the local organizations and health care providers that serve South Country members. The grants reinforce one of South Country’s founding principles of reinvesting in local communities.

About South Country Health Alliance

South Country Health Alliance is a county-based purchasing health plan owned by 11 Minnesota counties - Brown, Dodge, Goodhue, Kanabec, Morrison, Sibley, Steele, Todd, Wabasha, Wadena and Waseca - in a joint effort to support accessible, quality health care through partnerships with community services and local health care providers for Minnesota Health Care Program enrollees.

South Country began enrolling members in November 2001 and now has over 33,000 members. The health plan offers five programs
 to meet the health care needs of Minnesota Health Care Program enrollees in its service area.

For more information about South Country, call 1-866-567-7242 or visit