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Children and Family Services Assistant Commissioner Erin Sullivan Sutton testified in
December about child abuse prevention efforts before a Congressional subcommittee. Sullivan Sutton appeared before the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Subcommittee on Children and Families, which was meeting at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. She testified on behalf of the American Public Human Services Association, the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators (NAPCWA) as well as the state of Minnesota. Sullivan Sutton serves on the NAPCWA executive committee and is a past president of the organization.
Titled ““Breaking the Silence on Child Abuse: Protection, Prevention, Intervention and Deterrence,” the Senate subcommittee heard from two panels of experts, including Sullivan Sutton, in a discussion of child protection services, including child maltreatment prevention and intervention.
Sullivan Sutton highlighted innovative initiatives used in Minnesota to support families and keep children safe from maltreatment. She said that, whenever possible, child maltreatment prevention and intervention efforts in Minnesota focus on respectful engagement of families concerning child and family safety and well-being.
Sullivan Sutton cited the Family Assessment Response (FAR) approach to child maltreatment, which sets aside the investigative fault-finding activity and focuses on ensuring child safety by engaging the family in the services and resources they need to keep their children safe. She also highlighted other strength-based family collaborative interventions in her testimony, including engaging extended family in child safety and permanency decisions (via Family Group Decision Making), early intervention with at-risk families (via a Parent Support Outreach Program) and use of family and community safety teams assisting families to ensure child safety within their own homes (via Signs of Safety).
Sullivan Sutton also called for reforms of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), which states use to support child maltreatment and prevention efforts.
A news release about Sullivan Sutton’s testimony (PDF) is on the American Public Human Services Association’s website. More information about the work of the Senate subcommittee is available on the U.S. Senate website.