News: Board receives update from Child Well-Being Advisory Committee [updated]

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Hennepin County Minnesota


Contact: Carolyn Marinan, Communications, 612-348-5969

Update from Child Well-Being Advisory Committee

Updated with a link to watch the briefing.

At today’s Hennepin County Board briefing, members of the Child Well-Being Advisory Committee presented highlights from the first full year of work to flip child welfare from a crisis-response system to a child well-being model.

"This is the most robust effort this county has done in human services at this level,” said Commissioner Mike Opat, who is the committee chair. “I think we’ve made great progress, and there’s a lot of work left to do. This group has really helped to refine the path forward.” 

Watch the briefing. The Child Well-Being update begins at 59:08.  

Key accomplishments

Data-informed decisions

With the establishment of a dedicated data unit in 2016, Children and Family Services leadership can track metrics such as response time, re-entry into out-of-home placement and the number of placements a given child has experienced.

Child well-being

We can improve children’s safety by strengthening their families. Hennepin County workers and our community partners often know families who experience crisis from their contacts in human services, housing assistance and other touchpoints. We know that reducing stress on families before crisis occurs can improve people’s ability to be effective parents to their children.

A familiar place for children to land

Sometimes kids can’t stay at home. Hennepin County increased the number of placements with family members and other trusted adults. In 2017, 59 percent of days spent in out-of-home placement were with people children already know, up from 44 percent in 2015.


Families do better when they can form relationships with their social workers. From 2015 to 2017, Hennepin County increased the child protection workforce by almost 70 percent, to 647. Staff retention also has improved as caseloads have begun to decrease in many areas.


Calls still coming in

The number of child protection reports remain high – last year’s tally of 20,388 reports is nearly double the number logged in 2009.

Harder to go home

The number of kids in out-of-home placement is up because kids need to stay away longer. A key reason: The leading removal condition in 2017 was parent’s addiction to drugs or alcohol. The 400 drug addiction-related cases last year represents a 158 percent increase from 2011.

Disparities and disproportionality

The child protection system disproportionately affects families from the Native American and African American communities. Those same communities also experience poverty at higher rates than others. The issues that lead to abuse often correlate to both poverty and racial disparities.

Next steps

Committee members told the board that they will continue to work to leverage and coordinate services across the county – and the community – to help families who are in crisis. The goal is to intervene early to try to reduce the occurrence of child maltreatment, and to improve long-term outcomes for families.

The Child Well-Being Advisory Committee: Chair's Report to the Hennepin County Board is available.

Request the documents from the briefing.

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