Foster Care Reform in St. Louis County Minnesota

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You can help reform foster care for the children who so desperately need it. Send this letter, or a letter of your own to our State Representatives, Senate Leaders, and government leaders to create a voice for change.

David Tomassoni: http://www.senate.mn/members/member_bio.php?mem_id=1064

Julie Sandstede: rep.julie.sandstede@house.mn

Jason Metsa: rep.jason.metsa@house.mn

We would like to see foster care reform in St. Louis County in Minnesota.  Children, by no fault of their own, are born into this world to people who abuse drugs or alcohol causing their children lifelong disabilities, emotional scars and trauma. Our first mission to accomplish is to once these children are removed from the care of their negligent parents, that they receive the mental help they need, structure they crave, consistency and the love and support they need in order to heal and become productive citizens in the community. Secondly, to make the parents who have chosen to bring drugs and alcohol into their lives as their number one priority, more responsible and accountable. Thirdly, we'd like to open a drug and alcohol treatment center on the Iron Range to create more "seats" available for people needing treatment to recover from addiction.  

Following are some stats on the current state of foster care: 

In 2016, approximately 15,004 children were in out-of-home placement care. In most cases, the uncertainty and unpredictability of lengthy foster care placements do not promote children’s healthy growth and development” (mn.gov/dhs, 10-17).

We want change for Minnesota’s foster children’s rights to safety, we want a child focused system with timely permanency.  We want to focus on the well-being of children by reducing number of moves, minimizing the negative emotional impact of separation and loss for children, birth families, and foster families. We care about the future generations and are hoping that you too.

We feel that some steps to achieve these goals include:

1.   Addressing the biological parents need to Chemical Dependency and Mental Health Treatment. We need to open a treatment center here in Northern Minnesota. There is a facility in Buhl that would be the perfect location (The former Mesabi Academy).  This would not only create employment on the Iron Range, but it would open up more available spots for people fighting addiction that need help, support and treatment to live sober lives.

2.   Systematic changes in the delivery of attempt to reunify the child and biological parents. If parents are not fulfilling the requirements established by the Social Worker and Judge, in a time limit the established, A Permanency Plan should be activated to establish a safe and consistent home for the children.

3.   More mental health assessments and treatment for the kids as soon as they are added to the foster are system. More information for the foster parents on the child's background history and educating them on how to better help the child.

4.   Create a Foster Care Advisory Board with at least 80% of the members consisting of foster parents.

5.   Increase funding to foster parents for daycare, living expenses, and supplies.  Currently, many small children cannot get placed in foster care because of the cost of day care to the foster parents.

6.   Establish a safe environment for children during visits with family. Increase drug testing for parents, i.e. a drug test should be administered the day of a visit or within that week with no forewarning. When a parent shows up to a visit under the influence the visit is canceled and they will need to have a negative drug test to establish another visit. Parents should be responsible for providing their own transportation to visits.

7.   Create parent responsibility to work to retain their parental rights, less chances for parents. Decrease the child’s move back and forth between home and placements. Do not return children back to an unsafe home. Mckenna’s Law is a prime example of children being returned to unsafe homes. (Children’s Law Center of Minnesota, www.clcmn.org/news/mckenna

 

 Thank you for your time and for helping to make a change for the children in foster care. 



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