SAINT PAUL, Minn. – On Monday, Sept. 9, Rep. Rena Moran (DFL – Saint Paul) and Assistant Senate DFL Leader Jeff Hayden (DFL – Minneapolis) will hold a Town Hall Meeting to discuss the status and future plans for the African American Family Preservation and Child Welfare Disproportionality Act (AAFPA). The meeting is scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Camphor United Methodist Church (585 Fuller Ave.) in Saint Paul.
“We all share goals of ensuring all children can live in safe, healthy, nurturing environments. For this to be a reality, we must closely examine how all children of color are treated in each step of our child protection processes,” Rep. Moran said. “The African American Family Preservation and Child Welfare Disproportionality Act will help enable African American children to live their best possible lives, ideally in their own home, in their own community, and with their own family.”
“For too long we’ve failed to address the unequal treatment and poor child welfare outcomes for African American children and their families,” added Sen. Hayden. “It’s past time we step up and start to eliminate the disparities our Black families deal with every day. The African American Family Preservation Act will keep more families together and help them thrive.”
The legislators will be joined on a panel by Kelis Houston, advocate and founder of Village Arms, Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter, and Latonia Robielcki, a parent who has been impacted by child protective services.
Rep. Moran and Sen. Hayden introduced the AAFPA in the House and Senate, respectively, this past session. The bill, officially HF342/SF730, is aimed at stopping the arbitrary removal of black children from their homes by the child protection division. It includes measures to address disparities at every decision point while providing oversight and accountability to the child protection workforce. It would also create an African American Child Welfare Advisory Council and an African American child wellbeing department within the Department of Human Services.
Minnesota’s African American youth are removed from their homes at an alarming rate and a large number are crossing over from child protection into the juvenile justice system. Racial disparities are found in the entire process; from initial reporting, screening, and assessment to discharge from the system. The perpetual clogging of the state’s child protection system with children who are not at risk of harm exhausts the state’s resources and leads to caseworker overload and a significant decrease in foster home availability. This leaves children who truly need protection vulnerable and at risk.
In 2019, the bill earned approval from multiple committees in the House and Senate. The Town Hall will give interested community members an opportunity to weigh in on the legislation and discuss the steps necessary to help the bill become law.
For more information, contact Rep. Moran’s office at 651-296-5158.