Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Minnesota is being criticized for treating Black children and families unfairly in its child welfare system

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The Minneapolis Branch of the NAACP and Children’s Rights, an advocacy group, have lodged a complaint against Minnesota with the US Department of Health and Human Services. They claim that Minnesota is unfairly treating Black children and families in its child welfare system, using federal funds to disproportionately watch and separate them.

The complaint argues that Minnesota, particularly in Hennepin and Ramsey counties, should be investigated for violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in programs receiving federal financial assistance.

In 2020, Minnesota received over $232 million in federal funding for child protection agencies. The complaint emphasizes that federally funded child welfare agencies must provide non-discriminatory services under Title VI.

The complaint alleges that between 2019 and 2021, reports about Black children made up a higher percentage than those about white children in Minnesota, Hennepin, and Ramsey counties. Even though Hennepin County is almost 70% White, over the last five years, more than half of the reports handled by the Department of Human Services involved Black children.

The complaint reveals that Black children faced a higher likelihood of investigation, assessment, removal, and family separation compared to white children in Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Human Services stated that they are working to address disparities and strengthen the child protection system.

The complaint also points out that Black children in Minnesota were twice as likely to be removed and placed in foster homes than white children. The Children’s Rights group emphasized the need to end child separations based on skin color and urged the HHS Office of Civil Rights to conduct a thorough investigation.

In response to the complaint, the Minnesota Department of Human Services stated that they are reviewing it and declined further comment. NAACP President Derrick Johnson stated that they are watching and it is now up to the HHS Office of Civil Rights to investigate and determine appropriate remedies to protect children and families from the alleged misuse of federal funds. Shereen White, Director of Advocacy and Policy at Children’s Rights, called for an end to child separations based on skin color, emphasizing the negative impact on Black families in Minnesota. CNN has also reached out to the US Department of Health and Human Services for comment.

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