January 09, 2018 05:36 PM
Mothers, attorneys and advocates are calling for a special oversight committee to better balance what they see as racial disproportionality in the state's child protection system.
"On Sept. 5, 2015, my youngest child ... suffered a life-threatening event and was misdiagnosed with abusive head trauma," said DeClara Tripp as she testified Tuesday in front of the state's Legislative Task Force on Child Protection. "It has since been determined that I, nor my children, contributed to this injury."
Trapp broke down in tears after sharing her story.
She testified that even after winning her court trial she has yet to be reunited with her now 3-year-old son.
"I think we've all been offended by what we've heard happen to you, dear," said Rep. Linda Slocum.
"We really are before you not to place blame or point fingers, but to really ask for legislative oversight and some safeguards in place to protect our community from what's been happening," said the chair of the NAACP's Committee on Child Protection, Kelis Houston, as she presented her argument for a separate oversight committee to address racial imbalances to the task force.
Census demographics show 13 percent of the people living in Hennepin County are Black. Yet, according to Hennepin County, African-American children make up 37 percent of the kids in the county's foster care system.
"We have very low occurrences of actual abuse against our children, but very high rates of involvement in child protection and out-of-home placement," Houston said.
How would you like to see lawmakers address some of the racial imbalances parents and advocates say exist in the state's child protection system? You can email your thoughts to Sen. Michelle Fischbach, as well as Reps. Ron Kresha and Rena Moran below.
"I keep thinking of the phrase, 'Where there's smoke, there's fire,' and there's a whole lot of smoke that I am seeing," said Sen. Andrew Mathews.
Tripp's story got attention as she listed off the multiple placements her son has endured, as well as alleged additional trauma and neglect in his non-relative foster homes.
"Multiple reports of ... hygiene, neglect and poor nutrition and injuries were verified and ignored by the agency," she said of her child's experience in the system.
Lawmakers are listening.
"Let's change the laws so that our values are reflected," Slocum said. "Instead of just coasting along ... let's do something."
There was also testimony asking the task force to seek more leniency in terms of foster licenses when grandparents are trying to step in to help.
One attorney argued that would not only help maintain family units, but it could also help solve the growing problem of a lack of foster homes in the state.
Updated: January 09, 2018 05:36 PM
Created: January 09, 2018 04:33 PM
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