News and updates on the DHS efforts to assist Minnesota's families and children.
Foster Care Month highlights needs of Minnesota’s waiting children
May is National Foster Care Month. In 2015, foster parents provided family foster care to more than 12,000 Minnesota children. Approximately 68 percent of children who left out-of-home care were reunited with their birth parents, primary caregivers or other relatives. When possible, family foster care enables children to remain in their communities, close to their siblings, family and friends; in the same schools; on the same teams; and in the same cultural and social activities. The Minnesota Department of Human Services works to ensure children are placed in secure, safe, loving homes so that they may thrive until they can safely return home or become part of another permanent family. More information about foster care and becoming a foster parent is on the DHS website.
Foster Care Work Group submits final recommendations to 2016 Legislature
The Foster Care Work Group released its full report and recommendations. Recommendations included improvements in three areas of the foster care system: Improving recruitment, application and licensing processes; improving policies on the removal of children from their family homes; and improving the outcomes for children in the foster care system. Although the recommendations did not make it into the governor’s budget this year, several have been used by other legislators in their own bills. The final report and recommendations can be found on the Minnesota Legislature’s website.
LGBTQ Youth Practice Guide available in more languages
The Minnesota Department of Human Services youth practice guide, Working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning/queer (LGBTQ) youth (PDF), is now available in Spanish, Hmong and Somali. The practice guide has statistical information on LGBTQ youth, a glossary and resource list as well as information on preserving relationships and reunifying with birth families; engaging and building relationships with LGBTQ youth; ensuring LGBTQ youth safety; and considering circumstances for transgender youth.
State releases first youth sexual exploitation report, recommendations
A first-year evaluation of the state's Safe Harbor Program credits it with raising awareness and understanding of the sexual exploitation of young men and women in Minnesota and provides key information about the youth who are victims. The Safe Harbor First Year Evaluation Overview, released by the Minnesota departments of Health and Human Services, is the first report of its kind on Safe Harbor, the new statewide system for helping sexually exploited youth younger than age 18 years, which went into full effect in 2014. More information is in a news story about the report.
Celebrate Adoption event honors newly created families
Children adopted from the foster care system and their new families, as well as those interested in adopting and supporting Minnesota's waiting children, came together at the 18th annual Celebrate Adoption: A Circus of the Heart event, highlighting recent and ongoing adoption efforts across the state, including the adoption of 686 children in 2014. More information is in a news release about the adoption event.
Students graduate with adoption competency certificate
The fourth statewide Permanency and Adoption Competency Certificate program at the University of Minnesota saw 31 students graduate Dec. 11 at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus. Adoption experts from the Minnesota Department of Human Services and the Center for Adoption Support and Education worked with the University of Minnesota's Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare to develop the competency program in 2013 to better prepare adoption and child welfare professionals, and mental health practitioners working with adopted children with special needs. More information is available on the University of Minnesota's Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare website.
Fraud threat: SNAP hotline intercepted
Members of the public are reporting that they continue to receive unsolicited calls from what appears to be the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) toll-free information hotline number: 800-221-5689. The callers are requesting personal information offering assistance for filling out a SNAP application or other non-SNAP services such as home security systems. Never provide personal information or your credit card number over the phone to unsolicited callers. This outside entity that has spoofed the SNAP toll-free information hotline number is not affiliated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service or SNAP. If you suspect that you are receiving illegitimate calls, you may file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission. If you have already fallen victim to this or a similar scam, visit the FTC consumer webpage for more into formation on identity theft.
Work groups aim to improve services for children, families
Two new advisory groups recently initiated efforts to improve services for children and families in the state's foster care and child support systems. The Child Foster Care Work Group is addressing concerns such as the shortage of qualified foster care providers and disproportionate number of African-American and American Indian children removed from their homes and placed in foster care. The work group has made initial recommendations on recruitment, applications, licensing, policies, staffing and resources, and final recommendations will be made by March 1, 2016. The 2015 Legislature formed the Child Support Work Group to review and create an equitable parenting expense adjustment formula, recommend changes to child support computation and recommend composition of a permanent child support task force.
Provider enrollment starts for new autism benefit
Effective July 1, 2015, the Minnesota Department of Human Services began enrolling providers to deliver a new early intensive intervention Medical Assistance benefit for children and young adults with autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. Families and children will be able to access services later this summer. Under the new benefit, covered services will be designed to improve social interaction, communication and behavioral regulation skills at a critical time in development, promoting fuller participation by children in their family, schools and community life. Families interested in the new benefit should contact their county, tribe or managed care plan. More information is available in a news release and on the DHS website.
Early care and learning quality rating system gaining ground
A recent study from the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Participation in Parent Aware Ratings across Minnesota, shows that Parent Aware, Minnesota's voluntary quality rating and improvement system, is gaining ground across the state, but there is still work to do to recruit more programs. A four-year statewide rollout of Parent Aware was completed in January 2015, and will require more time to ensure every county has the desired number of participating programs. Parent Aware is a voluntary program that promotes research-based best practices among participating programs through training and coaching, then rates them on a scale of one to four stars. The full report, Participation in Parent Aware Ratings across Minnesota (PDF), is online.
Study looks at issues surrounding health of poor children
In Minnesota, the share of children living in poverty increased by more than 50 percent over the past decade. The fact that there are more than 70,000 children in deep poverty, with family incomes below half the federal poverty limit, is particularly troubling. In April 2015, the department released the first-ever report on future trends for Minnesota children in poverty. Poor children are less likely to be ready for kindergarten and more likely to experience intergenerational poverty, involvement with the criminal justice system and more health risks, such as smoking and drinking. More information is in a news release on the study.
Task force puts children's safety first in final recommendations
The Governor's Task Force on the Protection of Children issued its final recommendations - focusing on children's safety as its top priority - to Gov. Mark Dayton and the Legislature. Recommendations included improving child protection screening guidelines and practices, examining a continuum of responses to allegations of child maltreatment, addressing racial disparities in the system, improving training for child protection workers, providing additional oversight of county performance, ensuring transparency in the system, and seeking additional resources to carry out the recommendations. Gov. Dayton's supplemental budget proposal set aside $52 million in new funding for children protection. The final report (PDF) is available online. The department issued a news release about the task force's work.
Research shows many foster youth experience homelessness
Research on a sampling of 4,700 youth, ages 14 to 17 years old, who spent at least 30 days in foster care, shows that nearly one in five foster youth experienced homelessness. The research also indicates youth who moved within the foster care system more often than their peers were more likely to be homeless at some point in their youth. The department matched data from the Social Service Information System with the Homeless Management Information System and Hennepin County homeless data between 2006 and 2012. More information can be found in a news release about youth homelessness.
Safe sleep practices for infants can save lives
Parents, families, hospitals and child care providers can help reduce the risk of sleep-related infant deaths by following simple, safe sleep practices. In Minnesota, over a five-year period beginning in 2009, there were 247 deaths in which an unsafe sleep environment, such as placing the infant in a tummy position, co-sleeping in adult beds or on sofas, or having infants sleep with pillows or blankets, was a contributing factor. Greater awareness about safe sleep practices can help turn around those numbers.
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