December 06, 2017 04:57 PM
For 20 years, Marsha Van Denburgh has been involved in adoption and foster care in Minnesota.
"I always tell people the worst things you can think of -- worst things -- happened to my kids," she said.
That's why when Van Denburgh was alerted of the law that would require her newly adopted 13-year-old to be fingerprinted, she refused.
She's even willing to give up her license over it.
"It's more traumatizing to this child because they will never really believe that they haven't done something wrong," she said.
Minnesota has always required a background study for kids living in licensed foster homes.
Counties did it in the past by using a name, date of birth and an address. Van Denburgh never had a problem with that method of gathering the background information.
According to the Department of Human Services, child foster care provider background studies were transferred over to the fingerprinting method in March of 2017. It's more accurate than the old method of using a name and date of birth as DHS says about 1% of the time that information was getting entered into the system incorrectly.
The Department of Human Services now requires children ages 13 to 17 who are living in the home but not receiving services to be fingerprinted before a foster home can be licensed.
"I won't make her do it," Van Denburgh said as she testified in front of the Senate Human Services Reform Finance and Policy Committee at the beginning of November. "I will close my foster care license before I will do that."
"There's two sides to every story and this is clearly a voice that needs to be heard," replied Sen. Jim Abeler, the committee chair.
After sharing her story with lawmakers, Van Denburgh has been asked to help make changes to the law so vulnerable and traumatized children can have their background study run another way.
DHS says it has no plans to make any changes but will discuss the issue with lawmakers if it's raised in the 2018 session.
Abeler says the topic could be up for discussion again as early as January.
"The trauma is so deep and we have to be trauma-informed in our care of these children," said Van Denburgh.
Van Denburgh was able to get a variance granted for next year, and will see how much change occurs in the meantime.
Updated: December 06, 2017 04:57 PM
Created: November 13, 2017 05:28 PM
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