This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).






In the Matter of the Welfare of: K.T.


Filed September 11, 2007

Reversed and remanded

Toussaint, Chief Judge


Hennepin County District Court

File No. 27-JV-06-9347


Leonardo Castro, Fourth District Chief Public Defender, Barbara S. Isaacman, Assistant Public Defender, 317 Second Avenue South, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401 (for appellant K.T.)


Lori Swanson, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and


Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Linda M. Freyer, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, 300 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent State of Minnesota)


            Considered and decided by Ross, Presiding Judge; Toussaint, Chief Judge; and Parker, Judge.*

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

TOUSSAINT, Chief Judge

            Appellant K.T. was adjudicated delinquent on charges of second-degree assault and terroristic threats.  The district court ordered appellant to complete the adolescent male treatment program at Hennepin County Home School.  On appeal from the disposition order, appellant argues that the evidence does not support an out-of-home placement and that the district court failed to make adequate written findings to support its order.  Because the district court failed to make sufficient written findings to support placement under Minn. Stat. § 260B.198, subd. 1(m) (2006), and Minn. R. Juv. Delinq. P. 15.05, subd. 2(A), we reverse and remand.


The district court has “broad discretion to order dispositions authorized by statute in delinquency cases.”  In re Welfare of M.A.C., 455 N.W.2d 494, 498 (Minn. App. 1990).  “Absent a clear abuse of discretion, a [district] court’s disposition will not be disturbed.”  Id.  A district court’s “dispositional findings of fact will be accepted unless clearly erroneous.”  In re Welfare of L.K.W., 372 N.W.2d 392, 397 (Minn. App. 1985). 

To support an out-of-home placement, a district court must make sufficient written findings of fact to support the disposition ordered, specifically setting forth (1) why public safety is served by the disposition; (2) why the best interests of the child are served by the disposition; (3) what alternative dispositions were proposed to the court and why such recommendations were not ordered; (4) why the child’s present custody is unacceptable; and (5) how the correctional placement meets the child’s needs.  In re Welfare of J.S.S., 610 N.W.2d 364, 366-67 (Minn. App. 2000), see Minn. Stat. § 260B.198, subd. 1(m) (2006) (“[a]ny order for a disposition authorized under this section shall contain written findings . . . [setting] forth in writing the following information: (1) why the best interests of the child are served by the disposition ordered; and (2) what alternative dispositions were considered by the court and why such dispositions were not appropriate in the instant case.”). 

“The findings are necessary to facilitate meaningful appellate review, to show that the district court considered all of the relevant factors, and to enable the parties to understand the decision.”  In re Welfare of R.V., 702 N.W.2d 294, 304 (Minn. App. 2005).  The failure to make the required findings constitutes reversible error, and this court may remand to the district court for the limited purpose of developing findings that satisfy the statutory requirements.  In re Welfare of N.T.K., 619 N.W.2d 209, 211-12 (Minn. App. 2000); In re Welfare of C.A.W., 579 N.W.2d 494, 499 (Minn. App. 1998) (reversing where district court’s findings did not address factors necessary to justify out-of-home placement). 

            In determining out-of-home placement for a child, the court must take into account the risk to public safety.  Minn. R. Juv. Delinq. P. 15.05, subd. 2(B)(1)(a).  Here, the court made no findings nor did it comment during the hearing on how the out-of-home placement will affect public safety.  Accordingly, the district court failed to make sufficient findings as to why public safety would be served by the out-of-home placement.

The best interests of a child are usually served by parental custody.  In re Welfare of J.A.J., 545 N.W.2d 412, 426 (Minn. App. 1996).  When out-of-home placement is considered, the placement should be suitable to the child’s needs.  Minn. R. Juv. Delinq. P. 15.05, subd. 2(B)(3).  Here, the court did not explain how appellant’s best interests would be served by an out-of-home placement, nor did it identify any interests of the child that would be served by placement at Hennepin County Home School in particular.  The probation officer testified: “The bottom line, Your Honor, is I feel as a probation officer, Screening Committee felt that the best place for [appellant] is the County Home School.  He will get school there.  He will get therapy there.”  The district court order makes no reference to the testimony.

            Even if the district court had incorporated the transcript by reference, this court has previously held that incorporation of the transcript of a dispositional proceeding does not, by itself, satisfy the requirement that the district court make written findings of fact in support of the disposition chosen.  In re Welfare of J.L.Y., 596 N.W.2d 692, 696 (Minn. App. 1999), review granted (Minn. Sept. 28, 1999) and order granting review vacated (Minn. Feb. 15, 2000).  As we explained:

We acknowledge the administrative efficiency of the form and that in many cases the sound reasons for the disposition ordered are on the record, but incorporating the entire transcript into the order does not satisfy the written-findings requirement.  Incorporation does not effectuate the purpose of having written findings, which is threefold: (1) to guarantee that the court consider the appropriate factors in reaching its decision; (2) to enable the parties to understand the court's decision; and (3) to facilitate meaningful appellate review. 


Id. (citation omitted).

Accordingly, the district court failed to make sufficient findings that out-of-home placement was in appellant’s best interests.

Each trial court disposition rests in part on a finding that [an out-of-home] placement will serve better than a “regular daytime community service program” in impressing upon the children the seriousness of their conduct, giving the child insight into the causes and nature of [his] behavior, and identifying needs for further intervention.


C.A.W., 579 N.W.2d at 498.  The district court order lists St. Cloud Children’s Home and Northwoods as “alternatives considered,” but contains no discussion as to why these alternatives were inadequate.  The district court incorporated the probation officer’s pre-dispositional report into its order; however, review of the record reveals no mention of the alternatives considered in the report.  At the dispositional hearing, the probation officer testified as to the alternatives that were considered.  She noted:

The residential treatment programs, typically like St. Cloud Children’s Home, Northwoods, the ones I know of, Your Honor, that you’re very well aware of would not, I don’t believe, accept [appellant], given the nature of this offense, the level of denial and minimization towards the victim.  . . . [T]he multi-disciplinary members of the Screening Committee . . . felt that, given the nature of this offense, given some of the family structure, the fact that [appellant’s mother] has a husband who is fighting in Iraq, she moved prior – several days prior to this incident – the intention was the family was going to move to Georgia and reside there, and she moved seven of her eight children there.  She has chosen to stay in the State of Minnesota because her son now is involved in the criminal justice system, so there were a lot of factors, taking a look at lack of family structure, things like that.


            As stated above, the district court did not reference the transcript into the disposition order.  While the record does support the district court’s finding that alternatives were considered, upon remand, the district court should include this information in the statutorily required written findings.

            The district court must consider why the child’s present custody is unacceptable to serve as “a reminder of the preference for placing children in their own homes, and it calls for attention to the families of the children.”  J.S.S., 610 N.W.2d at 367-68 (quotation omitted).  “Correctional placements cannot occur without evidence and findings reflecting consideration of the child’s familial relationships.”  C.A.W., 579 N.W.2d at 499. 

            Appellant’s mother moved herself and appellant’s seven siblings to Georgia just prior to the incident that led to the dispositional hearing.  Appellant stayed in Minnesota under the custody of his co-conspirator in the crime so that he could attend summer school.  Mother was present at the hearing, but the siblings remained in Georgia

            The testimony from the probation officer indicates that the screening committee and probation officer considered his family situation, but the district court did not incorporate the transcript nor did it make any written findings regarding appellant’s present custody.

            An order for an out-of-home disposition must contain written findings stating the reasons that the placement will be suitable to the child’s needs.  J.S.S., 610 N.W.2d at 368.  These reasons must be specific to the individualized needs of the particular child.  See L.K.W., 372 N.W.2d at 400 (“If a placement is not suited to actual needs of the child, it cannot serve the child’s best interests.”).  Here, the transcript contains a very brief statement by the probation officer noting that “[appellant] will get school [at Hennepin County Home School].  He will get therapy there.”  But the record does not establish how these programs would meet appellant’s particular needs.  Accordingly, the findings are insufficient to support the district court’s out-of-home placement.

Because the district court’s order does not comport with the statutory requirements of Minn. Stat. § 260B.198, subd. 1(m), and Minn. R. Juv. Delinq. P. 15.05, subd 2(A), we reverse and remand for additional findings satisfying the statutory requirement. 

            Reversed and remanded.

* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.