The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners voted to approve a proposal to allocate more than $1.3 million to improve outcomes for children in the county. The measure reflects initial recommendations from the Children’s and Youth Services Comprehensive Review, which examined outcomes for children in foster care and the child protection program. The funding will create three new areas of focus:
• The Infant Court Model ($288,000)
Specialists will work with parents of young children who are in the child protection system because of allegations of abuse and neglect. The services they offer will focus on repairing parents’ bond with their children and on changing the parents’ behavior to prevent future maltreatment. The county will contract with St. David’s Center for Child and Family Development. Similar programs have been deployed in Miami, New Orleans, Santa Fe and Des Moines.
• Foster Care Child Care ($750,000)
Many current and prospective foster parents need to work to support their families. This increase in funding will support high quality child care for all children ages 0-5 in the foster care system, plus the current target population. This funding will be added to the $1 million in child care funding approved by the board in the 2015 budget.
• Community Specialists ($320,000)
Five community specialists will work with the schools of children in the foster care system, to ensure that children are achieving their education goals. Specialists will identify barriers to educational success and find sources of support for children and youth in foster care. Human services and corrections staff also will track and report data related to children’s progress related to educational and other goals, and will identify their developmental and psychological needs.