Inspiration for McKenna's Law to Receive 'Hero' Award

McKenna Ahrenholz Photo: KSTP
McKenna Ahrenholz

September 29, 2017 08:53 PM

McKenna Ahrenholz, a 13-year-old who inspired the push for more foster children to have access to lawyers, will be honored next month for her contributions to the well-being of Minnesota children. 

Ahrenholz will be the youngest recipient of the Hero for Children Award given by the Children's Law Center of Minnesota. 


Lillia Panteleeva, executive director of the organization, said in an email that Ahrenholz has started an important discussion about the process of child protection cases in the state. 

Panteleeva said McKenna's Law, which the State Legislature passed this year,  has changed the lives of hundreds of foster children who would not have otherwise been as involved in decisions about their lives. 

RELATED: Law to Inform Foster Children of their Rights Could Overwhelm Public Defenders

That bill stemmed in part from a KSTP investigation featuring Ahrenholz, which found examples of juvenile victims forced to fend for themselves, despite state law saying they were entitled to a lawyer.

Ahrenholz fought for a year before getting a lawyer, and she now lives happily with her siblings and grandparents. She said she took action at the Capitol because she wanted to help other foster kids who faced similar situations.

RELATED: Children at Risk: Foster Children's Rights Ignored

KSTP reporter Katherine Johnson will also speak with Ahrenholz at a fundraiser on Oct. 18. You can find more information about that event here. 


Andrew Heiser

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