Minnesota's foster care system has been under scrutiny for failing the children it's tasked with getting out of abusive and negligent homes and finding loving permanent homes. Now a child protection task force that was formed by the state's governor has recommended a number of reforms to the system that over 11,000 children are currently in.
The task force has approved four recommendations to improve the state's foster care system. This includes legislation that would compensate parents who adopt children the same as those who foster them. It would also provide adoptive parents with the same services as foster parents. One young woman who aged out of the foster care system without being adopted says that her foster parents told her that they wanted to adopt her, but said that it was financially preferable if they didn't.
Besides its financial disincentives for foster parents to adopt children, Minnesota's foster care system has other problems, and children are suffering emotionally and physically as a result. A review of state records showed that children who have suffered abuse at the hands of their biological parents are being taken out of foster care and returned to those parents, where they are again mistreated. When these children are again removed from their parents and placed in foster care, their sense of trust and self-esteem, already fragile, suffers further.
Federal standards say that states should return less than one-tenth of children back into the foster care system annually after reuniting them with their families. Minnesota brings more than one quarter of them back into foster care. This is just one federal standard that the state is failing to meet.
The state recognizes that changes need to be made. As Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson says, "much-needed improvements" need to be made.
Minnesotans foster parents and others who want to give a loving, permanent home to a foster child by legally adopting him or her should not be disincentivized financially or any other way. However, the adoption process can be lengthy and filled with red tape. Experienced legal guidance can be invaluable.
Source: Star Tribune, "In Minnesota's foster system, kids go from bad to worse," Brandon Stahl, March. 29, 2015