ST. PAUL, MN – On Thursday, Assistant Majority Leader Representative Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, Representative Peggy Bennett, R-Albert Lea, Representative Joe Mullery, DFL-Minneapolis, Deputy Majority Leader Senator Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, and Senator Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, unveiled a bipartisan report to review and advise the Department of Human Services (DHS) on the implementation of the historic investments in and changes to child protection law and the recommendations from the Governor’s Task Force on the Protection of Children.
“As with any report, this is a milestone that records our progress at this time and place; this report does not denote finality on the issue,” said Task Force co-chair Rep. Kresha. “It simply highlights our progress and prompts us that more work is needed toward the prevention of child maltreatment, reduction of racial disparities in the child protection system, better accountability and system improvements in foster care and out-of-home placements, and more evaluation and progress with Native American tribes to protect cultural heritage.”
The Legislative Task Force on Child Protection began meeting in the fall of 2015 with the charter to release a report on February 1, 2016 outlining the work that has been accomplished and to identify and prioritize Task Force recommendations to be implemented in the future.
“As those of us on the Governor's Task Force realized, the Child Protections structure had many systemic impediments to best serving the children of Minnesota,” said Rep. Joe Mullery. “Our report shows that at the state level we are making progress toward improving required actions that will save children while also instituting measures to preserve families and the cultural heritage of communities of color. But it will take time before we can be sure that procedures and goals are being put into practice at the local level on a case by case basis.”
Legislators from both parties in the Minnesota House of Representatives and Senate worked jointly to produce this report.
“This should be one of the state’s highest priorities, to ensure the safety and well-being of our children,” said Senator Rosen. “These recommendations are a vital step toward establishing better protections and security.”
The report highlights a number of issues that may be addressed in the upcoming legislative session.
“I am pleased that the Child Protection Task Force brought to light issues of primary concern to me and my constituents: upstream prevention, early intervention, support for families and the underlying causes that contribute to children and families being involved in protective care —these are issues I look forward to working with my colleagues on in the 2016 session,” Senator Hayden said.
Some recommendations include:
- Must continue to press counties and DHS to fully implement 24/7 child protection coverage in all 87 counties.
- Review the current use of law enforcement to remove children from the home and the impact, especially on communities and families of color.
- Recruitment of child protection workers in rural areas of the state.
- Further recommendations for DHS and the Department of Education to work together to identify “at risk” children and prioritize their academic success.
- Continue to measure effectiveness of DHS and the Counties Social Services in improving the child protection system.
- Identify recommendations to be implemented to improve the foster care system in Minnesota.
- Strengthen the role of ombudspersons in protecting the best interests of the child in all cases, and overcoming the misunderstanding of cultural traditions that contribute to the success of children of color.