In 1979, the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners established the Citizens Advisory Council to give a voice to citizens so they can influence policy decisions related to services delivered by the Community Human Services Department. Citizen involvement is even more important today, with the challenge of limited funding and a dramatic increase in the need for services. The CAC is advisory to the Board and serves as a resource to the Community Human Services Department.
The CAC operates with seven advisory committees, each representing a different population served by the Department:
The Adult Services Committee represents adults age 60 and older who have difficulty living independently or are at risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, and persons between age 18 and 60 who have a major physical or neurological disability.
The Chemical Health Committee represents low-income adolescents and adults whose use of drugs or alcohol creates a situation where they are not capable of managing themselves or their personal affairs and they are unable to function effectively, including pregnant women who use drugs or alcohol.
The Children’s Mental Health Advisory Council represents families with a child who has an emotional disturbance or a severe emotional disturbance, an organic disorder of the brain or a clinically significant disorder of thought, mood, perception, orientation, memory, or behavior that seriously limits a child’s capacity to function in primary aspects of daily living.
The Mental Health Advisory Council represents adults with mental illness, an organic disorder of the brain or a clinically significant disorder of thought, mood, perception, orientation, memory, or behavior that seriously limits their capacity to function in primary aspects of daily living.
The Children’s Services Review Panel represents children who are in need of protective services because a caretaker is unable to care for them or because they are a victim of abuse or neglect, children who are under state guardianship, adolescent parents and minors who are pregnant, children assigned by juvenile court for probation supervision, and children under age 10 who have committed a delinquent act or are runaways or truants. (Member Benefits and Related Links)
The Developmental Disabilities Committee represents individuals who have been diagnosed as having significant sub-average intellectual functioning and demonstrated deficits in adaptive behavior, which has manifest before their 22nd birthday, and/or related conditions of severe chronic disability attributed to cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, or other conditions excluding mental illness.
The Low Income Committee represents individuals and families who need help meeting their basic needs for food, shelter, clothing, and medical care because their income falls below federal poverty guidelines.
The CAC fills its role by assuming the following responsibilities:
- Provide insight, observations, ideas, and challenges from a community perspective regarding the needs of specific vulnerable populations served by the Community Human Services Department.
- Identify existing service gaps or inequities, and community priorities related to human services.
- Provide input about program development or changes, service area budgets, and legislative proposals.
- Educate the broader community about relevant issues and public programming.
- Participate in legislative advocacy on behalf of the vulnerable citizens represented.
- Share information and support with other members of the CAC.
- Participate in developing an annual presentation to the Board by each advisory committee.
- Initiate reports and recommendations or committee projects that relate to the service delivery system.
Note: The Children’s Mental Health Advisory Council, the Mental Health Advisory Council, and the Children’s Services Review Panel have additional responsibilities according to state statute and federal law.
- Members must live or work in Ramsey County.
- Each member is appointed by the Board to serve for a two-year term, with a limit of three terms, or six consecutive years of service.
- Members are expected to make a commitment of time to participate in monthly meetings.
- The time commitment may vary from five hours a month (reviewing materials, traveling to and from the meeting and meeting participation) to 10 hours a month (serving as an officer, representing the committee on the CAC, participating in a work group.)
- Members are expected to participate from the perspective of the overall needs of Ramsey County citizens, not just their constituent group or organization, and not individual agendas.
Members benefit from the network of people they meet by serving on an advisory committee—other members, participants, guests, and resource people—whom they may not otherwise meet. Members have an opportunity to expand their knowledge on very important social issues and will become stronger advocates and leaders. Participation on an advisory committee enables members to make a difference in the lives of others that they may not be able to make alone.