AP NEWS

Bill seeks to reduce foster placements of black children

February 16, 2019

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Two Minnesota lawmakers have reintroduced legislation aimed at reducing out-of-home foster placements for black children and keeping more families together within the state’s child protection system.

Sen. Jeff Hayden and Rep. Rena Moran have sponsored the Minnesota African-American Family Preservation Act, which would also establish better oversight when black children are moved to foster families. The bill didn’t advance last year, but Moran said she’s hopeful that Republicans will support it after hearing from black parents who have lost their children.

Black children are three times more likely to experience out-of-home placement than white children, according to Claire Wilson, deputy commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

“The disparities in Minnesota’s child protection system are alarming,” Wilson told Minnesota Public Radio News , noting that the agency is committed to working with lawmakers.

Data from the state’s juvenile courts show that the number of child welfare cases that involve black families has increased by more than 50 percent between 2013 and 2017.

Kelis Houston, who advocates on behalf of children in court, said qualified relatives and black foster parents are often overlooked as placement options for black children.

Hayden, one of the bill’s sponsors, said there are too many examples of black children being raised in white foster homes and losing their cultural identity.

“They grew up in a process in which they didn’t know who they were,” Hayden said. “And subsequently, (they) had a lot of trouble dealing with society because they had no grounding.”

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org