African American Family Preservation Act
THE MINNESOTA AFRICAN AMERICAN FAMIY PRESERVATION ACT WOULD SERVE TO:
Protect Children and Strengthen Families
Reduce the Overall Cost of Child Welfare Services and Out of Home Placement
Reduce Law Enforcement and Judicial Systems Costs for Intervention
Improve the Mental Health and Social Functioning of African American Children
Improve the Child Protection Department’s Efficacy
SPECIFICS OF THE BILL
The purposes of the Minnesota African American Family Preservation Act are to (1) protect the best interests of African American children, and (2) promote the stability and security of African American families by establishing minimum standards to prevent arbitrary and unnecessary removal of African American children from their families.
1. A local social services agency shall make active efforts to prevent out-of-home placement of an African American child, eliminate the need for a child's removal from the home, and reunify a child and family as soon as practicable. Prior to removal, a local social services agency must work with the child's family to implement a 60-day in-home safety plan in cases that do not allege physical, sexual abuse or egregious harm.
2. Prior to an African American child's placement in foster care, the responsible local social services agency must make active efforts to identify and locate the child's relatives and the noncustodial or non-adjudicated parent and notify them of the need for a foster home for the child and provide them with a list of legal resources.
3. The commissioner of human services shall modify existing practices related to visitation after an African American child is placed in out-of-home placement. Visitation with the child's parent or guardian must be increased to three to five one-hour visits per week until reunified, and a minimum of one two-hour weekly visit with a sibling or siblings, if siblings are in separate placements.
4. A court shall not terminate the parental rights of an African American parent based solely on that parent's failure to complete case plan requirements. A court shall not terminate the parental rights of an African American parent in placement proceedings that do not involve alleged: sexual abuse; egregious harm as defined in section 260C.007
5. An African American parent whose parental rights have been terminated may appeal the decision within 120 days of the service of notice by the court administrator of the filing of the court's order.
6. An African American parent, an African American child who is ten years of age or older, a local social services agency, or guardian ad litem may file a petition for the reestablishment of the legal parent and child relationship. A petition for reestablishment of the legal parent and child relationship may be filed regardless of the age of the child or how long the child has been in foster care
7. A local social services agency employee who has duties related to child protection shall not knowingly:
(a)(1) make untrue statements about any case involving a child alleged to be in need of protection or services; (2) withhold any information that may be material to a case involving a child alleged to be in need of protection or services; or (3) fabricate or falsify any documentation or evidence relating to a case involving a child alleged to be in need of protection or services.
(b) A local social services agency employee who has duties related to child protection who commits any of the acts in paragraph (a) shall be guilty of a felony and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than two years or to payment of a fine of not more than $4,000
8. The commissioner shall appoint an African American Child Welfare Oversight Council to help formulate policies and procedures relating to African American child welfare services, to ensure that African American families are provided with all possible services and opportunities to care for their children in their homes
9. Creation; administration. (a) The African American Child Well-Being Department is created in the Department of Human Services. The office shall be headed by a director appointed by the commissioner of human services. The commissioner of human services shall provide the African American Child Well-Being Department with office space, administrative services, and secretarial and clerical assistance.
10. The commissioner shall establish direct grants to African American-led organizations, service providers, and programs that serve African American children and their families, to provide primary support for African American child welfare programs to implement the African American Family Preservation Act.
11. The commissioner of human services shall ensure African American culturally competent training to individuals working in the child protection system, including child welfare workers, supervisors, attorneys, juvenile court judges, and family law judges.
12. The commissioner of human services shall work with representatives of the African American community to establish a method to disaggregate data related to families of African descent and begin disaggregating data by January 1, 2020.
13. Appropriation in fiscal year 2020 is appropriated from the general fund to the commissioner of human services for the administration of the African American Family Preservation Act under Minnesota Statutes, sections 260.61 to 260.695. This is an ongoing appropriation and shall be added to the base.
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