The Potluck

Report: Number of Minnesota children entering foster care fell 10% in 2018

By: - February 25, 2020 10:22 am

Nearly 6,750 Minnesota children entered foster care in 2018, a 10% decline from the year before, according to a recent report from the Minnesota Department of Human Services. A total of 16,488 children, including those already in foster care and those who were new to the system, were in foster care, roughly the same as in 2017.

Racial disparities are a concern, the report says. Indigenous children were roughly 18 times more likely, Black children 3 times more likely, and those identified as two or more races were 5 times more likely than white children to be in foster care.

In a major weekend feature story, the Star Tribune reported that a coalition of children’s advocates want Minnesota to loosen its foster-care licensing standards, which include more than 100 crimes that can disqualify prospective foster care parents from becoming licensed.

The state’s licensing standards are among the strictest in the nation, and many of the crimes are not related to child safety, according to the Star Tribune. Advocates say the stringent requirements result in children being removed from safe foster homes, often with relatives, and placed in the care of nonrelatives, making it more difficult for them to find a permanent home.

In Minnesota, county social services oversees the vast majority of out-of-home care placements, which include any 24-hour period spent in foster care, like group homes, family homes and emergency shelters. Corrections and tribal social services oversee roughly 15% of foster care placements, the report says.

Children enter foster care for a number of reasons, including mental health concerns, juvenile corrections, child protection or developmental disabilities.

The rate of children who re-entered foster care in Minnesota in 2018 was 15.9%, almost double the federal standard of 8.3%.

Children stayed in foster care for nearly twice as long in 2018 compared to 2013, due in part to the opioid epidemic and an increase in children involved in child protection, the report says. The median length of time children spent in foster care was 345 days in 2018, up from 175 days in 2013.

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a former data reporter for the Minnesota Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.