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Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson and Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea are joining together to reinvigorate efforts among courts and social services to place foster children in permanent, nurturing families, and make improvements in the child welfare system.
As part of this effort, they are leading meetings of the Children’s Justice Initiative (CJI) in Thief River Falls on June 21 and in Grand Rapids on June 22 that will include judges, court staff, social services directors and social services staff to share information and ideas about how to best work together for Minnesota’s children in foster care. These are the final two of seven such regional meetings around the state.
Given the commissioner’s and chief justice’s concern about children in foster care and their commitment to ensuring they gain permanency and stability in their lives, they are meeting to discuss promising practices and challenges for achieving timely permanency for youth. While in Grand Rapids, they will meet with a family that has adopted many children to learn about their experience and gain insight into what they can do to make further improvements for youth in the system.
The CJI mission is to ensure that in a fair and timely manner, abused and neglected children involved in the juvenile protection court system have safe, stable, permanent families. Jesson said the regional meetings are one of several strategies they are using to continue to make improvements in the court and social services system.
“While CJI has been around for more than a decade, we want to revitalize this effort to encourage judges and social workers, along with their agencies, to work closely together to develop and implement best practices in the child protection system so that all children are safe and well cared for,” Jesson said.
Added Chief Justice Gildea, “The Minnesota Judicial Branch is committed to making timely decisions that are in the best interest of children in foster care. This is among the most important work we do, ensuring that children are safe and have the opportunity to grow up to be competent, caring and contributing adult citizens.”
CJI is child-centered, operating through the eyes of the child. At its core is the goal of forming a child protection system collaborative to place children in permanent, nurturing families. According to Chief Justice Gildea, new this year is a greater focus on establishing permanency for older youth and improving educational stability for all children in foster care.
There are more than 11,200 Minnesota children in out-of-home placement, primarily foster homes – approximately 275 foster children are in Northwestern Minnesota with approximately 500 in North Central Minnesota.
Media availability: CJI regional meetings are working events. Commissioner Jesson and Chief Justice Gildea will be available for media interviews after each meeting.
Thursday, June 21
2:30 – 3:00 p.m.
Thief River Falls - Best Western Inn
1060 Highway 32 South
Thief River Falls, MN 56701
Friday, June 22
2:30 – 3:00 p.m.
Grand Rapids - Sawmill Inn
2301 South Highway 169
Grand Rapids, MN 55744