Gov. Walz signs parental rights law with concerns from child welfare experts

May 21, 2019 11:54 AM

After it passed both the House and Senate unanimously, Governor Tim Walz on Monday signed a bill into law that will give Minnesotans a chance to have their parental rights restored.

While lawmakers aren't split on the new law, child welfare experts are.


The new law states parents who have their parental rights terminated due to non-egregious harm, such as mental illness or chemical dependency, can now petition the court to get their children back.

The law states the parent has to have corrected the conditions that led to the termination of rights, and show the ability to provide day to day care and safety of the child, and the child has to have been in the foster care system for at least four years after their parents' rights were terminated.

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Parents who have physically or sexually abused their children still won't have the chance to have parental rights restored.

Lilia Panteleeva with the Children's Law Center of Minnesota says if it is executed well, it should work.

"In many instances, parents just need extra time to fix the problem, or find the support, or have the opportuntity to fix the problem that brought them into foster care in the first place. We also really appreciate that now it is the parents who can file the petition, in the past and the prior version of this bill, only the county attorney's could file this petition," said Panteleeva.

But not everyone likes the new law.

Kathleen Blatz worked as a supreme court justice, and helped change laws to protect kids under Governor Mark Dayton's Task Force on the Protection of Children.

"This new law goes in the wrong direction. Instead of focusing on abused children, the new law is focused on giving parents who have been legally judged to be either unable or unwilling to protect their children more years to try to get their children back," Blatz said. "This new law has lost sight of the children who need and deserve a safe and permanent home and family."

When it comes to adoption, the parent is not allowed to come back and try to restore those parental rights if the child has been adopted. It is also not allowed if the child is the subject of a written adoption placement agreement between the responsible social services agency and the prospective adoptive parent.

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Jessica Miles

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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