Commissioner Stephanie Podulke appointed to governor's Subcommittee on Children's Mental Health

Commissioner Stephanie Podulke
Olmsted County Commissioner Stephanie Podulke was recently appointed by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz to the State Advisory Council on Mental Health, concentrating on a subcommittee for children’s mental health and juvenile corrections. Commissioner Podulke is serving as the representative for rural counties in the state.

Podulke worked with youth for most of her professional life – initially as a licensed middle and high school teacher; later as a program manager for specialized foster care; and finally as an in-home family therapist, where she worked with troubled families to prevent children from being placed in out-of-home care.  In situations where placement was unavoidable, Podulke assisted the family in planning for an eventual successful reunification of the youth back into their families and communities. 

“Growing up is challenging work: emotionally, physically, and intellectually. Children and youth with mental health problems have added stresses of severe anxiety, physical and emotional trauma, and difficult socialization experiences,” said Podulke. “Due to statewide budget restraints and cuts, too many of our children experiencing mental health challenges or who are reacting to family, social, and school circumstances over which they have no control, have limited programming, and often enter the juvenile correctional system for lack of more restorative options. We need to change this.” 

The State Advisory Council on Mental Health and Subcommittee on Children’s Mental Health are comprised of people from all areas of Minnesota with a variety of mental health and juvenile corrections backgrounds. Podulke is hopeful that, by working together, this diverse group can develop and improve restorative options and programming which will divert youth from entering the juvenile correctional system and help them achieve their full potential. 

“We need to develop in-state, local programs and residential facilities which allow troubled children and youth to remain in contact with and eventually successfully reintegrate with their families and communities,” continued Podulke.

In 2019, the Minnesota Department of Human Services awarded $5 million in funding to build a mental health crisis center in Rochester, Minnesota. This facility will serve 10 counties in southeast Minnesota and construction is expected to begin this spring. 

“Our state, our children, and our youth need mental health crisis centers like this in all regions. We all believe in the possibilities of human potential and social change.”