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Safe Passage for Children Volunteer Briefing for 2015 Legislative Session.

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Presentation on theme: "Safe Passage for Children Volunteer Briefing for 2015 Legislative Session."— Presentation transcript:

1 Safe Passage for Children Volunteer Briefing for 2015 Legislative Session

2 How Does Minnesota Respond to Child Abuse and Neglect? Minnesota only responds to 28% of child maltreatment reports Average for states is 62% This affects 20,000+ children/year

3 What is Safe Passage for Children of Minnesota? Citizens’ group advocating for systemic improvements to state’s child welfare system “Child Welfare” = child protection and foster care programs and related services

4 Mission To rebuild the Minnesota child welfare system so children are safe and reach their full potential

5 Goals Change Minnesota child welfare laws and practice to: –Make child safety and well-being the paramount responsibility of the system –Reinvest in Child Welfare –Measure Outcomes for Each Child

6 The Program Problem Our research with the U of M Hennepin Cty: –Some children reported 10 – 15 or more times –70% of children who finally get ‘screened in’ go to voluntary Family Assessment program –Only 10%-15% of these get services –It takes 47 months to get to court –36% of children experience additional maltreatment while under protective supervision

7 The Program Problem – Cont. 29% of cases closed while the children are still in high risk situations Pressures to return children home almost at any cost – less than 5% of cases lead to TPR Average child is placed four times 76% of children were left in risky situations during period when case is open with the county or court 63% of family preservation attempts failed to extent that child had to be removed again

8 The Resource Problem MN is ‘state supervised/locally administered’ Minnesota is 2 nd lowest in state funding for child welfare – approx. 16% of total cost Counties pay for most services in Minnesota State has cut its contribution by $25 million since 2002 Total federal/state/county cuts = $41 million

9 The Philosophical Problem Minnesota and other states have embraced some form of ‘Family Assessment’ Rejects traditional fact-finding protocol –Children interviewed in presence of perpetrators –No collateral contacts or report of what happened –No report whether maltreatment occurred Raises concerns about child safety with experts, public, legislature, media

10 Consequences of Delays ‘ACE’ research shows that trauma disrupts normal brain development 90% of brain development by age 5 Affects building blocks for adulthood –IQ –Ability to bond with others –‘Executive Function’ (self-regulation) –Ability to read social cues

11 Consequences of Delays ‘Heightened stress has been shown to impair the development of the prefrontal cortex, the brain region that, in humans, is critical for the emergence of executive functions—a cluster of abilities such as making, following, and altering plans; controlling and focusing attention; inhibiting impulsive behaviors; and developing the ability to hold and incorporate new information in decision-making.’ National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2010

12 Consequences of Delays Toxic Stress Alarm System as a Survival Mechanism Trauma damages the alarm system Post trauma, the alarm system is too easily triggered and too slow to shut down After Trauma Child is on constant alert Child over-interprets signs of danger Child overreacts to normal situations Child has difficulty with attachment and trusting others, particularly authority figures Bryan Samuels, Commissioner of DHHS Admin. For Children, Youth and Families

13 Child-Focused System A system for social/emotional well-being includes: –Screens children for trauma when their cases are opened –Conducts assessments at regular intervals to determine whether services being delivered to children and youth are improving functioning Bryan Samuels, former Commissioner of DHHS Admin. For Children, Youth and Families, currently Executive Director of Chapin Hall at University of Chicago.

14 How We Work Train volunteers to lobby their elected officials for systemic improvements Volunteers are effective: –Almost always get appointments with legislators –Often have more credibility than paid lobbyists Non-partisan: volunteers and legislative supporters represent full range of views

15 A unique model of citizen engagement Lean cost structure Nonpartisan, non-ideological Sustainable – reform effort based on a renewable volunteer base Engages citizens in an issue that benefits community overall

16 Outcome Based Solutions Follows federal Children’s Bureau strategy Assess trauma when child first enters system Update periodically Report outcomes Simple objective: Determine if program is helping a child do better Add other measures over time e.g. developmental milestones, behavioral health

17 Events Leading up to Today Star Tribune stories –May 2014 – introductory article –Labor Day – Eric DeanEric Dean –Star Tribune editorialseditorials –Failures of Family Assessment programFamily Assessment –56 child fatalities (and counting)56 child fatalities Governor appoints Task Force on Child Protection 9/22/14Task Force on Child Protection * right click on bolded text then select ‘open hyperlink’ 17

18 Governor’s Task Force Charge to Task Force: –Review policies, laws, and protocols –Enhance accountability –Analyze capacity and resources Current status –Made preliminary recommendations 12/31/14 –Final recommendations due end of March 18

19 Task Force Preliminary Recommendations 19 Child safety and well-being will be paramount responsibility of child protection Deletes language that makes Family Assessment the ‘preferred response’ Counties must follow the same guidelines for child maltreatment The time required to retain information on screened-out reports is extended from one year to five years

20 Preliminary Recommendations – Cont. 20 Repeal law that workers can’t consider previous reports when evaluating current maltreatment report Commissioner must develop a quality assurance program to ensure consistent screening Share maltreatment reports consistently with local law enforcement agencies Expand types of maltreatment reports that require an investigative response Increased use of collateral contacts Mandatory supervisory training

21 Concerns from Legislators and Counties 21 Path after initial report is unclear – is everything an investigation? Emphasis on children –Will mean rights of parents not respected –Don’t care how this affects families Lack of cultural lens/ doesn’t value culture No public defenders on Task Force Process is rush to judgment based on one case in Pope County

22 Additional Proposals African American Working Group on Child Protection New initiatives on racial disparities –Paraprofessional position as ‘cultural translator’ –Ombudsperson for children –Research culturally effective programs 22

23 Bills Authored by Task Force Members Implement Initial Recommendations Incorporate all of above recommendations HF 191 –Chief author Rep. Ron Kresha, R. Little Falls –Got through Committees Health and Human Services Reform Civil Law and Data Practices Public Safety and Crime Prevention Next stop Health and Human Services Finance 23

24 Bills Authored by Task Force Members Cont. SF 4 Sen. Kathy Sheran –Co-authors Rosen, Eken, Hoffma, Rest –Through Health Human Services, and Housing –On to Judiciary (this Thursday) Concerns about impact on civil liberties and communities of color –Perhaps Transportation/Public Safety –Then to Finance 24

25 Governor’s Initial Budget 11 positions for Dept. of Human Services $2.5 million for the biennium Best Practices for screening, child mortality Enhanced training and fatality reviews Backup support for counties 25

26 Governor’s Supplemental Budget $50 million for recommendations expected from the Task Force Unclear if amount is per year or for biennium Looking at: –More staff for the Counties –Rebuilding service array –Possibly more staff at DHS –Planning e.g. Multi-Disciplinary Teams Staff for Quality Assurance ongoing casework 26

27 Moving > Final Recommendations Screen every child for trauma Develop screening and assessment beyond trauma e.g. developmental milestones, MH Use Multi-Disciplinary Teams: County Attorneys and law enforcement Strengthen screening Consider track assignment after initial visit Rigorous use of risk and safety assessments

28 Final Recommendations – Cont. Keep some FA practices e.g. strengths based Increased state funding –Adequate staffing –Review service array in counties –Impact on County Attorneys/Law Enforcement –Upgrade computer system and tech in the field 28

29 Significant Remaining Issues What elements of Family Assessment will be retained? When will track assignment be made? How much will improvements cost? Will the legislature support Governor’s supplemental budget?

30 Our Message to Legislators Support SF 4/HF 191 Support Task Force Final Recommendations including budget request We will have a bullet point list of –Key provisions in the current bills SF 4/HF 191 –Likely policy changes in bills based on Task Force Final Recommendations –Possible Supplemental Budget requests

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