The Committee on Human Services Reform heard legislation this week to combat the arbitrary removal of black children from their homes by child protection agencies. African American youth in Minnesota are removed from their homes at alarmingly higher rates and are often moved from child protection into the juvenile justice system. This legislation seeks to address racial disparities found within the entire child protection system—from reporting, screening, and assessment, to family reunification or termination of a parent’s rights.
Clogging the state’s child protection system with children who are not at risk of harm in their homes has a negative ripple effect on the state’s resources, including case worker overload and decreased availability in foster homes, leaving truly vulnerable youth at risk.
The Minnesota African American Family Preservation Act would address racial inequities by creating an African American Child Welfare Advisory Council and an African American child wellbeing department within the Department of Human Services to increase oversight and accountability within the child protection workforce. Advocates believe the legislation will help keep more Minnesota families together while simultaneously improving the state’s protection system.
The bill passed and was referred to the Judiciary Committee. (SF 730)