Brown County Browser: Changes, challenges in Human Services

“What are the 3 Biggest Human Services Changes in those 46 Years?”


Movement from use of large institutions, namely state hospitals and nursing homes, to a large array of community based facilities. Some examples are group homes, sections of community hospitals, assisted living facilities, and a vast array of specialty facilities. Together they care for developmentally disabled, elderly, disabled adults/children and chemically dependent.


Movement from middle income traditional family structures to a dependence on government programs to support families with two or more working members.

Often the jobs are lower paying with fewer benefits, especially health care, than previous generations enjoyed. Brown County has had less of the lower family income challenge, but similar lower benefits, especially health care. This has led to approximately 5,000 of its 25,300 residents needing some type of taxpayer covered health insurance.

Also, 800 families receive assistance from the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Brown County has one of the lowest use per capita of all these types of programs in Minnesota. Most families receiving these programs work full time for one or more employers.


The most difficult to describe is the need for more assistance to children in the county. The county received 600 complaints of neglect and abuse in the most recent years. Two-hundred of those complaints required some level of service. It is the most perplexing and challenging of all the changes the county has seen in my 46 years of employment. There are multiple cases and the need for community wide solutions. Fortunately, Brown County is known for its togetherness to assist/solve these types of problems. That includes schools, law enforcement, religious resources and a host of concerned citizens.

For more information come to a presentation/discussion of these and other human service topics sponsored by CASTLE (Community and Seniors Together Learning Environment).