Racial and Ethnic Disparities


Prepared by:
Melinda Hugdahl, Staff Attorney
Legal Services Advocacy Project

Chapter 107, Article 2, Sections 1 - 12 (HF 975)
Uncodified Language
Effective August 1, 2013
Sunsets March 15, 2015

A. Purpose
Creates a Cultural and Ethnic Communities Leadership Council within the Department of Human Services (DHS) for the purpose of advising the DHS Commissioner on reducing disparities impacting racial and ethnic groups.

B. Guidelines
Directs DHS to develop guidelines: (1) defining the membership of the council; (2) setting out definitions; and (3) developing duties of DHS and the Council regarding racial and ethnic disparities reduction. Requires DHS, in developing the guidelines and selecting council members, to consult with: (1) counties; (2) tribes; (3) ethnic and cultural communities; and (4) diverse program participants and parent representatives.

C. Membership

1. Chair
Grants the DHS Commissioner sole authority to appoint the Chair.

2. Composition
Establishes membership to include: (1) the Chairs of the House and Senate Human Services Committees; (2) ranking minority members of the Human Services Committees; and (3) not less than 15 nor more than 25 members selected by the DHS Commissioner. Requires membership to include representation from: (1) racial and ethnic groups; (2) tribal service providers; (3) culturally and linguistically specific providers and advocacy groups; (4) DHS program participants; (5) public and private institutions; (6) parents of DHS program participants; (7) the faith community; (7) DHS employees; and (8) other groups DHS deems necessary to facilitate the goals and duties of the Council.

3. Timing of Appointment
Requires at least 15 members to be appointed by September 15, 2013 and the remaining members by November 15, 2013.
Note: November 15, 2013 is the date established under the new law as deadline by which the Council's must hold its first meeting.

4. Terms
Provides that: (1) the first seven members appointed serve only until January 15, 2015; and (2) the other members serve one-year terms, with the possibility of an additional year extension.

D. Duties
Sets forth the Council's duties, which are, among other things, to: (1) recommend which current policies foster disparities and thus should be reviewed; (2) engage diverse populations in DHS programs to identify disparities issues; (3) raise awareness regarding disparities with the Legislature and media; (4) provide technical assistance, training, and outreach in developing statewide linguistically and culturally appropriate, accessible, and cost-effective DHS policies and services; (5) facilitate culturally appropriate and sensitive admissions, services, discharges, and utilization reviews for human services agencies and institutions; and (6) form work groups to carry out the duties.

E. Report to the Legislature
Requires DHS to report to the Legislature by February 15, 2014, and annually thereafter: (1) summarizing the activities of the council; (2) identifying the major problems and issues confronting racial and ethnic groups in accessing human services: (3) making recommendations to address issues; and (4) listing the specific objectives that the council seeks to attain during the subsequent biennium. Requires the report to contain: (1) a list of programs, groups, and grants used to reduce disparities; and (2) statistically valid reports of outcomes on the reduction of the disparities.