COVID-19 Guidance from Minnesota’s Children’s Cabinet

Minnesota’s Children’s Cabinet is committed to protecting the health, safety, and well-being of children. Below are resources for families during the response to this COVID-19 pandemic emergency.

COVID-19 Guidance

For the latest information on COVID-19, please visit the Minnesota Department of Health website or call the MDH COVID-19 Hotlines open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (interpreters available):

  • Health Questions: 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903
  • Schools and Child Care questions: 651-297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504

Follow this link for health information in other languages, including how to wash your hands in other languages.

Mental Health Resources

Mental health remains a top priority for this Administration – and that work is more important now than ever. In Executive Order 20-02 and 20-19, the Governor directed state agencies to work together to ensure that mental health services provided to children and families continue. The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) and Department of Health (MDH) have been working with public and private partners to respond with resources that allow children and families to receive mental health services and supports that are needed. Telemedicine is allowing mental health providers to reach students in their homes, who were previously provided services in schools or clinical settings. Well-being supports have also been developed to help families manage stress during this difficult time. There are mental health related hotlines that can provide support to children and families experiencing mental distress:

Cash and Economic Assistance

Bridge to Benefits – Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota’s Bridge to Benefits is a web-based screening tool that aims to improve family economic stability by screening for and providing information and referrals to assistance with applying for work support programs and tax credits such as SNAP, WIC, School Meal Program, Minnesota Health Care Programs, Energy Assistance and Child Care Assistance.

ApplyMN is a simple, secure Web application that connects you with state and county services to help meet your and your family’s basic needs. You can use ApplyMN to apply for cash assistance,  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, child care assistance, and Emergency Assistance. Please call 651-431-4000 for questions.

Emergency Assistance – For emergency needs, such as help paying rent or utility bills, some households may be eligible for Emergency Assistance. Households should contact their county or tribal human services agency to learn about availability, eligibility and how to apply.

Community Action Agencies provide local, state, federal and private resources to help individuals and families who have low incomes.

Under the Governor’s Emergency Executive Order 20-12, the Minnesota Department of Human Services has temporary authority to waive or modify requirements so that the agency and its partners can continue to provide essential programs and services to Minnesotans safely and without undue delay during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information and a complete list of temporary waivers in effect, visit this DHS webpage.

Unemployment Support – Governor Walz signed Executive Order 20-05 on March 16, to ensure Minnesotans who are not able to work due to COVID-19 have access to Unemployment Insurance. Specifically, this Executive Order will waive the employer surcharge and allow the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to pay unemployment benefits immediately, providing fast relief to employees who need it. Minnesotans looking for more information on Unemployment Insurance can find it at the Department of Employment and Economic Development website here, and sign up here

Congress also recently passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). That law includes several changes that may affect your eligibility for unemployment benefits. These changes include

  • $600/week additional compensation for people receiving unemployment benefits.
  • A new benefit program for workers who are unemployed as a result of COVID-19 who are NOT eligible for regular unemployment benefits.
  • An extension of unemployment benefits for up to 13 weeks.

Health Care Coverage

MNsure is offering a special enrollment period for qualified individuals who are currently without insurance in response to the potential growth of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. This special enrollment period runs Monday, March 23 through Tuesday, April 21. Eligible families can apply and enroll in Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare at any time. Information about who qualifies and how to enroll can be found here. If you need this information in another language, follow this link.

The Department of Human Services has ceased renewal and closure notices for Minnesotans on CHIP, Medical Assistance, and MinnesotaCare. Enrollment in the programs continues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Copays, deductibles and other expenses related to COVID-19 have, for most plans, been eliminated.

Minnesota’s health plans have agreed to waive costs for treatment of COVID-19. This move comes in response to a March 13 letter from the Governor and State Commissioners of Health and Commerce urging Minnesota health plans to remove barriers to coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minnesotans with commercial insurance—including individuals, small businesses, and some large businesses—are now eligible for the following benefits:

  • Minnesotans will have no cost-sharing charges for COVID testing.
  • Minnesotans who are hospitalized will have no cost-sharing charges for in-network hospitalization.
  • Minnesotans will have expanded access to telemedicine services. This will help people stay home and access care if they need it.

Minnesota’s non-profit health plans that have committed to this framework: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, HealthPartners, Hennepin Health, Medica, PreferredOne, and UCare.

Many Minnesotans that receive coverage through their employer have self-insured plans. The Departments of Health and Commerce do not have regulatory authority over these plans but are encouraging employers to work with their plan administrators to implement similar measures.


Visit Minnesota Housing COVID 19 webpage for the latest information and resources. The Governor’s Stay At Home orders do not mean anyone should stay somewhere unsafe. There are places of sanctuary open for anyone facing abuse or violence. Minnesota’s statewide crisis hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-866-223-1111 or by text at 612-399-9995.

Executive Order 20-14 puts a moratorium on evictions during the peacetime emergency in order to protect the health and wellbeing of Minnesotans. However, rent is not reduced or waived during this moratorium. Once the suspension has ended, owners can file for evictions and removals can be enforced. If renters don’t pay their rent on time, it could affect their credit or cause problems that impact future housing options. Refer to this FAQ on this Executive Order (available in Spanish, Hmong, and Somali) for more in information. Renters should talk to their landlords and if emergency assistance is needed, contact the county human services agency where they live, United Way (dial 2-1-1 or 1-800-543-7709, or the Department of Human Services. Renters should talk to their landlords and if emergency assistance is needed, contact the county human services agency where they live, United Way (dial 2-1-1 or 1-800-543-7709, or the Department of Human Services.

  • For legal help, call HOME Line’s tenant hotline: 612-728-5767.
  • If you receive an eviction notice during peacetime emergency, you may contact the Attorney General’s office to submit a complaint.

Utilities – Many telephone, internet and cell providers have signed the Keep America Connected Pledge and are responding by not disconnecting  services, and/or making special payment plans available. In addition, many providers are opening public hotspots and offering free Wi-Fi for students and low-income families.

Comcast is opening its Xfinity WiFi Network nationally for free, offering unlimited data for free, connecting low-income families to free internet to support them with distance learning during school closures.

The Energy Assistance Program (EAP) helps pay for home heating costs and furnace repairs for income-qualified households. Households may apply to their local Energy Assistance provider through June 1.

Child Care

Families seeking access to child care – especially if you work in one of these sectors – should call the Child Care Aware parent line at 1.888.291.9811 and visit for child care resources and a map on providers who are open and available to serve essential workers. If you are a parent or guardian in need of child care They should  We know many families have experienced closures in child care settings and need to identify new providers during the emergency. The data on open providers is provided daily to Child Care Aware.

Child care providers: Child care providers are considered essential workers and are allowed to remain open. Child care providers are encouraged to prioritize children of essential workers with public health guidance and information on The Children’s Cabinet is sharing frequent updates about the COVID-19 pandemic and considerations related to the heroic work of those who provide educate and care for Minnesota’s children and provide stability for our state’s workforce. Providers should continue to update their status and capacity here.

Financial Supports for Child Care Providers

Applications for the Peacetime Emergency Childcare Grants are now being accepted. Child care programs currently eligible to apply include licensed family and group family programs, child care centers, and tribally licensed child care programs. Selected applicants will receive an award on a month-to-month basis starting at $4,500, The grant process begins in April and will repeat in May and June as funding is available or until the peacetime emergency has ended, whichever is first.

Six Minnesota Initiative Foundations (MIFs) and Think Small launched an Emergency Child Care Grant Program to provide financial support to licensed child care providers in Greater Minnesota and in the metro serving families of essential workers needed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Food Security

Hunger Solutions Minnesota Food Helpline – With one call the Minnesota Food HelpLine assesses the caller’s situation and provide solutions to their food needs. For assistance for those struggling to afford or access food, call 1-888-711-1151, use the chat feature, or fill out this form.

Hunger Solutions Minnesota created this map with information about free or low-cost meals for kids, including restaurants, and this map with information on food shelves, discount groceries and other resources.

Summer Eats/Free Meals for Kids App – As public schools and community meal sites are closed, free nutritious school meals for kids 18 and under are only a click away. Starting immediately, the Free Meals for Kids mobile app will help families and kids in need find and access free meals at more than 400 schools and other sites across Minnesota.

Second Harvest Heartland SNAP Outreach Specialists are available to assist families who need food assistance and can provide more information about receiving assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Outreach Specialists share information about enrolling in and using nutrition benefits to help make informed decisions about buying healthy, nutritious food. Information of SNAP enrollment is available through the DHS website.

Food shelves throughout the state support food security needs and support hunger reduction initiatives. Families who have an immediate need for food or who are experiencing sudden shifts in economic and food security can visit a local food shelf to receive nutritious and culturally appropriate food options. Many food shelves are adapting during the emergency to provide drive thru or other alternatives. More information can be found on Second Harvest Heartland’s website.

Business Supports

Small businesses, including child care providers and nonprofits, may also be eligible for business supports. This includes the Federal Small Business Administration COVID 19 Disaster Loans, federal expansions to the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (allows a $10k grant upfront regardless if you take a loan) and the new Paycheck Protection Program (with certain conditions can be forgiven, apply directly through participating lenders). SBA Resource Partners are also available to help with no-cost, one-on-one business counseling regarding COVID-19.

Worker Supports

Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry has information on Worker Protections Related to COVID 19 including use of sick leave and Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Contact Minnesota OSHA Compliance at [email protected], 651-284-5050 or 877-470-6742 with questions or if you need alternative languages.


The date for filing taxes has been moved from April 15 to July 15, 2020. Many free tax sites are suspending in-person tax preparation assistance during the peacetime emergency. For information and qualifications for free online filing options, please visit the Minnesota Department of Revenue Site.

If you need this information in another language, follow this link.

Additionally, follow this link for information on what you need to know regarding the economic impact payments, otherwise known as the federal stimulus.

Additional Family Supports

Below are some resources to support parents, guardians or others caring for children that may be helpful during these stressful times.

COVID Hotlines

State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) Hotline: 651-297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504

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