Reality Based Training for New Child Protection Workers

The Zero Abuse Project at St. Paul’s Hamline University is the home of CAST, (Child Advocacy Studies), a national training program for child protection workers and other first responders. A key part of CAST is “sim” (simulation) labs, which take place in mock houses and courtrooms.  There trainees develop skills by interviewing and interacting with professional actors, who…

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Rich Gehrman Comments
Governor Walz’ Promises

Last year we surveyed gubernatorial candidates on child protection issues.  One watchful reader asked whether Governor Tim Walz had followed up on his commitments. In the next two blogs we will review the Governor’s responses, and how they will inform our 2020 legislative agenda. Governor Walz said he would “support dramatic, across-the-board increases in funding” for child protection, but his…


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Rich Gehrman Comment
Distinguish between Neglect and Poverty

Pressures to divert the 70% of child maltreatment reports that are “just neglect” into less safe child protection responses reflect concerns about systemic racism, specifically that workers screen in too many African and Native American families because they can’t distinguish poverty from neglect. But discounting neglect reports is risky.  As the…


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Rich GehrmanComment
Political Activism and Children

Most parents in child protection have themselves suffered from childhood trauma, compounded by societal injustices such as poor housing and jobs that don’t pay enough to live on. Some activists believe that many parents screened into child protection aren’t maltreating their children, and bringing them into the system simply compounds past wrongs.  Accordingly, they…

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Rich GehrmanComment
Keep the Good Parts of Family Assessment

Minnesota’s Family Assessment (FA) program is based the unsubstantiated claim that traditional child protection practices are disrespectful of parents, and the assumption - proven false by research – that parents will engage in services voluntarily. Some FA practices also endanger children, for example…


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Is Kinship Care Always Better?

This state Dashboard Report shows that kinship foster care increased from 35.8% of days in care to 58.5% since 2014.  The federal goal is 37.5%. When metrics stray this far from expectations we look deeper.  In this case we have heard concerns about workers being pressured to move children to questionable kinship settings, including by disrupting…

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Lessons from the 2019 Minnesota State Legislative Session

As reported last week, the 2019 legislative session funded the Child Welfare Training Academy, which will help ensure consistent social work practices statewide.  The Center for the Advanced Study of Child Welfare deserves great credit for their dogged efforts to pass this bill. Guardians ad litem and Public Defenders also got more resources. Overall however both political parties viewed child welfare largely through …


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Rich GehrmanComment
Mixed Results in Legislative Session – Your Help is Needed!

With ten days to go, the 2019 Minnesota legislative session has produced mixed results for child welfare related programs. Currently, the House budgets in various Conference Committees include infrastructure increases for the biennium of $4.2 million for the Child Welfare Training Academy, $10.9 million for guardians ad litem, and $31 million for Public Defenders.  For prevention and…

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More Funding for Children’s Services

The Department of Human Services produced this helpful analysis of expenditures for Minnesota children’s services.  Some highlights… Reforms in 2015 accelerated these increases by bringing thousands of additional children into child protection and foster/kinship care.  Many of them were eligible for federal entitlement programs, which required the state and counties to pay for …


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